Frankenreads: Celebrating Mary Shelley with Touchstones
In October 2018, hundreds of groups around the world celebrated Mary Shelley’s Frankensteinon the 200thanniversary of its publishing. Some held live readings of the full text as others stage theatrical productions, in addition to a variety of other themed events in honor of the novel. The Frankenreads event, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, brought together numerous groups to explore the novel and the questions it raises on topics such as belonging, humanity, empathy, fear, isolation, creation, vulnerability, and goodness. Touchstones participated in the Frankenreads event by providing Touchstones lesson plans around an excerpt from Frankensteinthat is edited for students at different grade levels. We also provided an unedited excerpt and discussion plan for adult groups to use.
All teachers and group leaders who ran a Touchstones discussion that day received these materials electronically for them to print:
- the group-appropriate Touchstones excerpt from Frankenstein
- a worksheet designed to get all participants thinking about the passage and sharing their ideas with others
- an evaluation tool for the group to assess its work together
- a lesson plan for the leader – this includes suggested questions for discussion, some initial discussion strategies, and a timeline to conduct the complete activity in 1 hour
The selection chosen by Touchstones focuses on the monster’s search for love and acceptance and the challenges he faces because of his appearance. Through Touchstones discussions around the country and the world, we hoped all participants would be enlivened and revitalized with new perspectives and experiences gleaned through shared exploration of ageless themes of compassion and understanding. We especially hoped this discussion would be a time for everyone to consider and reflect on the harm and cruelty that comes with judging a book by its stitching. The Frankenreads event is one example of the civic discourse that allows for growth and development of compassion and communication within our communities.
“Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.”