This year’s Ericksen Lecture, sponsored by the Ken and Donna Ericksen Endowed English Department Fund, was given by Charles E. Robinson, professor of English romanticism at the University of Delaware.
Robinson analyzed Mary Shelley’s novel “Frankenstein” on March 31 in Nicholson Library.
Robinson’s lecture, “It’s Alive: The Monster and Manuscript of Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein,’” was largely about the “Frankenstein” manuscripts and the different movie and theatrical adaptations of “Frankenstein” that have emerged over time.
Robinson began the lecture with the journey of Shelley’s novel, from its conception in 1816 to the many editions and adaptions of the text published later. He showed the original manuscript written by Mary Shelley and the edited manuscript written by her husband. “Frankenstein” was first published in 1818, then again in 1823, and revised by Shelley to be published again in 1831. Mary’s husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley, served as her editor.
Robinson is an expert on Shelley’s novel and has edited multiple versions of the text. He pieced the original manuscripts of “Frankenstein” together.
“The more you know about the genealogy of a text, the more you know about the mind of the artist,” he said.
Robinson explained that many people confuse the monster with Dr. Frankenstein, who created the monster.
“We know that man is made in the image of his creator,” he said, “therefore, the monster is made in the image of his psychologically disfigured creator and, consequently, the monster is physically disfigured.”
“Frankenstein” is a cautionary tale that warns against the perils of technology, Robinson explained.
“‘Frankenstein’ becomes a cultural metaphor in the sense that technology, which we are supposed to rule, is now ruling us,” he said.
He identified the main theme in the novel as “the dangerous consequences of the pursuit of knowledge.”
Robinson said he was first drawn to “Frankenstein” when he wrote his dissertation on Lord Byron and Shelley when he got his Ph.D in 1967. He said he has taught “Frankenstein” every year for 46 years at the University of Delaware.
“I keep learning from it,” he said.
There was a large turnout for the event.
“It was interesting, especially the commentary on ‘Frankenstein’ being a metaphor on society. Professor Robinson was hilarious,” freshman Robin Fahy said about the lecture.
Freshman Kyra Rickards, one of many students from the English department who attended, said she enjoyed the lecture.
“I loved the anecdotes about his experiences while editing the manuscripts,” she said. “Professor Robinson taught my class on Wednesday, and it was really cool.”
Kelsey Sutton/Staff writer
Kelsey Sutton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.