Frankenreads and Duke
Celebrating the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein with Duke University
At 9am on October 31, 2019, almost seven hundred organizations partnered with Frankenreads to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Universities from China to South Africa to Columbia took part celebrating this great literary work, as did the Library of Congress, with many universities around the world held these marathon readings and events centered on Mary Shelley and her masterpiece.
Duke University’s own Frankenreads celebration was held in a room central to the English Department. At 9am on Halloween morning, there was a nice spread of pastries, coffee, and Frankenreads mugs. The reading was powerful and broken up into ten-minute reading slots to allow more people to be a part of the event. In addition to this, the department’s Web and Communication Specialist, Quanta Holden, live-streamed via the English Department’s Facebook page so those off-campus or unable to attend could still see the event.
Walking down the halls of the Allen Building, it was impossible not to hear the readers. Their cadence and content drew in several passersbys to see what was happening on Halloween. Had they show up at 9am, they would have seen one of department’s graduate students, dressed aptly in a pumpkin headband and festive Halloween colors, start the marathon by thanking Frankenreads, Quanta, the department, and Mary Shelley.
Overall, the marathon reading succeeded in bringing to life one of the first science fiction novels to be written. The English Department not only hosts events like this on holidays, but professors will encourage students to participate in department excursions by sometimes offering extra credit or advocating for the event. Last year, some students and faculty in the English Department took a group excursion to see a local theater performance of Sense and Sensibility, which allowed students to apply classroom material to real-life situations and enjoy the different artistic takes on classic stories.
Frankenreads is an NEH-funded initiative of the Keats-Shelley Association of America and partners to hold a series of events and initiatives in honor of the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
For more information please see https://frankenreads.org/.