Fall 2018

Frankenstein: The Making of a Monster

Listed in: English, as ENGL-344


Amelia Worsley (Section 01)


Two hundred years ago, at the age of nineteen, Mary Shelley wrote what is often called the first science fiction novel. Frankenstein not only describes fears about accelerating technology and monstrosity in the early nineteenth century; it also sets the stage for continuing discussions about gender, reproduction, race, ethics, slavery, science, artificial intelligence, language, and disability. To celebrate this groundbreaking novel's 200th anniversary, this co-taught class will explore the making of the text, alongside its monstrous legacy in contemporary culture. We will look both backwards, at Shelley’s influences (such as Milton, Rousseau, and Wollstonecraft), and forwards, to the novel’s adaptations and afterlives–including films, theater, electronic novels, comic books, and the extensive Frankenstein collection in Smith’s rare book room. As we trace the history of the novel and explore the enduring role of gothic monstrosity today, we will ask: what has allowed this novel to endure, and why can’t our contemporary culture let it go?

Classes will alternate between Amherst and Smith Colleges. The course will have a course number at both institutions, and will count as an Amherst class for Amherst College students.

Admission with consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 Amherst students and 18 Smith students. Fall semester. Professor Worsley and Professor Gurton-Wachter of Smith College.

If Overenrolled: Preference given to upper-level students.


Attention to Issues of Gender and Sexuality, Attention to Issues of Race


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018