WHYY: Frankenstein, now 200 years old, shows its roots

Living historians Dean Howarth and Rachel O’Connell have the audience join in a circle and share an electric shock at the Science History Institute.

Mary Shelley published her novel “Frankenstein” in 1818. Since then, the fantastic tale has been retold many times with many variations. But the story always has a pivotal laboratory scene.

That’s when Dr. Frankenstein obsessively contorts through a maze of glass, cables, wheels, globes, and arcing lightning. We never understand how it’s all networked together to reanimate death, but – clearly – he does.

The science is grandiose, sublime, theatrical.

Dean Howarth, a high school science teacher from Virginia with a passion for historical enactment, came to the Science History Institute Tuesday evening to perform a period lecture in the character of a physicist from the 18th century when electricity was new and not entirely understood.

It was embraced by both scientific seekers and quacks.

 

Excerpted from an article on WHYY.org by Peter Crimmins.

Published

October 31, 2018