Alive! It’s alive!
Yes, the long-awaited “‘Frankenstein’: Penetrating the Secrets of Nature” exhibition is now, indeed, on display at Eastern Illinois University’s Booth Library, and accompanying it is a wide array of educational, thought-provoking and even down-right fun activities. All events, unless otherwise noted, are free and open to the public.
Don Smith, a specialist in popular culture and host of WEIU-TV’s “Monsterbeast Theatre,” will help begin the coming week’s events when he presents “Frankenstein Film Saga: Universal Studios vs. Hammer Studios.” The lecture, set to take place at 4 p.m. Monday, Oct. 24, in Booth Library, Room 4440, will compare Universal Studios’ depictions of Frankenstein as the monster and British Hammer Studios’ portrayal of Dr. Frankenstein, the monster’s creator, as the true “monster.”
A showing of the film “Young Frankenstein” will take place at 7 p.m. Monday in Booth Library, Room 3202. This 1974 film, starring (among many others) Gene Wilder and Peter Boyle, is “Mel Brooks’ monstrously crazy tribute to Mary Shelley’s classic.”
Tuesday’s events take a more serious look at “Frankenstein” and science in general.
Kathleen Bower, associate professor of geology at Eastern, will present “Fate of Unmentionables from the Water Closet: Another Science Miracle” at 4 p.m. in Booth Library, Room 4440.
While the Romans kept human sewage separated from household water for aesthetic reasons, their technology was lost during the Dark Ages of Europe. As people migrated to urban areas for an improved standard of living during medieval years, increased urban human density led to a very noticeable sewage disposal problem. The industrial revolution in Europe accelerated the rate that untreated sewage accumulated in urban areas, resulting in contamination of household water. Finally, the extent of the problem was realized with deaths from three world cholera epidemics in the 1800s. This led to an improved understanding of the nature of the spread of cholera.
During the Victorian era, contributions to two fields of science - medicine and civil engineering - led to improved sewage treatment resulting in a decrease of pathogens in household water. By the beginning of the 20th century, the number of deaths due to untreated sewage decreased dramatically.
Later in the day, three EIU faculty members and a visiting guest from the University of Illinois will gather for “Frankenstein: An Introduction,” an interdisciplinary discussion of the impact of Shelley’s “Frankenstein” on various fields of study.
This event, set to take place at 7 p.m. in Lumpkin Auditorium (Room 2030), will include "Frankenstein and Postmodern Ethics," presented by Gary Aylesworth, EIU professor of philosophy; "My Hideous Progeny: Frankenstein and the Failure of Enlightenment and Romantic Ideals," presented by Dagni Bredesen, assistant professor of English; "Genetic Engineers: Creating Monsters or Helping Humankind?" presented by Charles Costa, associate professor of biological sciences; and "Mould Me of Digital Clay: Or the Analog Prometheus in the Wasteland of CGI," presented by Georgepierre Lebron, doctoral candidate in English, U of I.
Don Holly, assistant professor of anthropology at EIU, will present “Old Vampires, New Sorcery: An Archeology of New England’s Undead,” at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 26, in Booth Library, Room 4440.
In the 19th century, the bodies of two southern Rhode Island women were exhumed from their graves, inspected by the townsfolk, declared to be vampires and then “promptly killed.” The women were subsequently reburied, but they have never rested in peace. Today their gravesites, and those of others who have been accused of being vampires, are popular destinations for tourists, party-goers, fans of the occult, and others -- perhaps even sorcerers.
According to Holly, this lecture explores the vampire legends and people's continued fascination with them.
Jeff Mishur, art historian and owner of Art Excursions Inc., will end the first full week’s events with a lecture titled “The Art of Monsters.” This lecture, set to begin at 7 p.m. in Booth Library, Room 4440, will feature “renderings of monsters in the history of art, from mythology, the Bible and purely imaginative sources. The images range in date from the third millennium B.C.E. to the late 19th century. The program features images of monsters from artworks by Bosch, Durer, Moreau and other artists.”
Mishur is sponsored by the Illinois Humanities Council’s Road Scholar Program.
Visitors to Eastern’s campus for any of the above-mentioned events are encouraged to come early and/or stay late to also view the many aspects of Booth Library’s “‘Frankenstein’: Penetrating the Secrets of Nature” exhibition.
Among those are “Big Screams from the Big Screen,” located in the library atrium; “The Bogeyman Under the Bed – Why Children Need Monsters,” located in the Ballenger Teachers Center; “Franken-Kitsch: Frankenstein Collectibles and Memorabilia,” located in the Reading Room, 4000 south; and “Frankenfoods,” Reference Gallery.
For details and information about other coming events, please see the following Web site: http://www.library.eiu.edu.