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Language Arts > Literary Analysis

NYPL BIBLION FRANKENSTEIN

Make Frankenstein’s creature come alive with the New York Public Library’s collection of original manuscripts, photos, and essays that explore the historical, thematic, and cultural significance of Mary Shelley’s "Frankenstein".

grade level:
9-12
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Created by
Mylo Lam
Curriculum Developer and Researcher

Overview

NYPL Biblion Frankenstein is a free and easy-to-use online resource and iOS app from the New York Public Library (NYPL), featuring curated primary and secondary documents that examine Mary Shelley’s seminal work, "Frankenstein," through historical, thematic, and cultural lenses.

Frankenstein

From the original 1818 handwritten draft to an essay discussing modern America’s fascination with monsters, this collection presents the topic of "Frankenstein" as both a Romantic literary masterpiece and a pop culture icon. Users can explore the theme of ostracism, make connections between "Frankenstein" and other literary works, consider the legal and moral ramifications of remixing, and much more.

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The Modern Prometheus: Pushing the Limits of Creation and Remix

NYPL Frankenstein deconstructs Mary Shelley’s original source material, while offering a multitude of supplementary material that should enrich the experience of reading the novel. Whether in the midst of reading "Frankenstein" or having just finished it, this thoughtfully curated collection encourages students to critically examine a literary work in both historical and modern contexts, connecting its themes to their own lives and experiences.

nypl biblion frankenstein Breakdown

Ease of Use

NYPL Frankenstein has simple touch-based controls, and its content should be accessible to high school students who are currently reading or have finished reading "Frankenstein."

Features

NYPL Frankenstein features Selected Themes, a collection of essays, photos, graphic novels, and videos that explore the novel’s themes on the web and on iOS.  An exclusive to the iOS version is The Sources, a series of primary documents from Mary Shelley and her contemporaries.

When holding the device portrait-style, the app shows the Selected Themes section. Here, users tap on the icon of the theme to scroll through its collection. Once they are on the content page, they can read it, bookmark it, share it, link to other resources, and access all the other content in Selected Themes with the bar on the left side of the screen.

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Use the Selected Themes section

Holding the device in a landscape orientation reveals The Sources section. Here, users tap on the titles of the primary documents on the screen to view them. The upper right of the screen has an overview of the document and, if applicable, a transcript of the text. Users may also access the other content in The Sources at the bottom of the screen.
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Locate sources at the bottom of the screen

recommended content

Below are brief descriptions of the sections under Selected Themes and The Sources of NYPL Biblion Frankenstein that we found especially thought provoking for teachers and students to further explore.

Selected Themes

1. Outsiders: A look at what it means to be a pariah and how ideals that were considered radical in the past (e.g. equality among sexes) are now readily accepted.
    • “What Makes a Monster?” by Susan J. Wolfson
    • “Before Victoria: Extraordinary Women of the Romantic Era”
    • Graphic Novel: The Ballad of Charles and Mary Lamb
    • “In Prison: 'We’re the Monsters'” from the Metropolitan Detention Reading Group
    • “The Blind and Frankenstein” by Caroline Ashby
    • “A Monster’s Notes” by the NYPL Cullman Center
2. Shelley’s Ghost: Exploring the personal, social, and literary lives of Percy Bysshe and Mary Shelley.
    • “Percy Bysshe Shelley: Radical, Lover, Atheist, Poet”

    • “Mary Shelley: An Unconventional Visionary”

    • Graphic Novel: An Illustrated Biography of Mary Shelley

    • “Mary Wollstonecraft: Early Feminist”

    • “Byron and Shelley”
3. Frankenstein: Reviewing the enduring myth of Frankenstein’s unnamed Creature through its many portrayals from the novel to the stage to the silver screen.
  • “The Making of Frankenstein”
  • “A Synopsis and Dramatic Reading of Frankenstein”

  • “Cultural Interpretations of Frankenstein” by Susan Tyler Hitchcock

  • “Frankenstein on Stage”

  • “Frankenstein on the Silver Screen”

  • “Growing Up with Frankenstein” an interview with Henry Jenkins

  • “The Creature in the Cinematic Machine” by Paul Flaig

  • “Tyranny Overthrown: Shelley’s Prometheus Unbound”
4. Creation & Remix: Frankenstein’s Creature was much more than a remix of human body parts. It was also about “the spark of life of creation, the mutability of creation, and remix leading to new creations.”
  • “The Modern Prometheus: Pushing the Limits of Creation and Remix” an interview with Henry Jenkins

  • “Celebrity and Fandom in the Age of Frankenstein” by Eric Eisner

  • “Monster Ball” by NYPL Teen Programs

  • “The Monster Reads Milton: Paradise Lost” by Wm. Moeck

  • “Spark of Being: Electricity and the Human Body” by Madeleine Cohen

  • “Automata and Frankenstein” by Erminio D’Onofrio

The Sources

1. Mary Shelley’s handwritten draft of "Frankenstein": The full original 1818 draft, written in Shelley’s personal notebooks, with a transcription.
2. Prologue to 1831 Edition of "Frankenstein"Mary Shelley’s prologue, describing how the origin of "Frankenstein" came from sharing ghost stories during rainy days in Geneva.
3. The Esdaile Notebook: Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Early Poems: A collection of Percy Shelley’s (husband of Mary) early poems, many dedicated to his first love, Harriet Grove.
4. Friendship Albums by Anne Wagner and Julia Conyers: Wagner and Conyers, women who were part of the same literary social circle as the Shelleys, created the “Friendship Albums,” a series of art and written works that gives a vivid account of their daily lives in the early 19th century.
5.  Correspondence, Poems, and Tracts: Short poems and works by William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft (among others), the renowned philosophers and parents of Mary Shelley.
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