Cover image for Frankenstein : penetrating the secrets of nature : an exhibition by the National Library of Medicine
Frankenstein : penetrating the secrets of nature : an exhibition by the National Library of Medicine
Lederer, Susan E.
Publication Information:
New Brunswick, N.J. : Rutgers University Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
ix, 78 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 23 cm
General Note:
"Published in conjunction with the exhibition Frankenstein: Penetrating the Secrets of Nature, organized by the History of Medicine Division, National Library of Medicine"--T.p. verso.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PR5397.F73 F75 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating
PR5397.F73 F75 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



As science penetrates the secrets of nature, with each discovery generating new questions, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein will sound its note of warning. Many scientific developments have provoked references to Frankenstein , a story that, for nearly two centuries, has gripped our imaginations and haunted our nightmares. How can society balance the benefits of medical discoveries against the ethical or spiritual questions posed?

Frankenstein: Penetrating the Secrets of Nature accompanies a traveling exhibit of the same name. This lavishly illustrated volume begins by highlighting Shelley's novel and the context in which she conceived it. It next focuses on the redefinition of the Frankenstein myth in popular culture. Here, the fate of the monster becomes a moral lesson illustrating the punishment for ambitious scientists who seek to usurp the place of God by creating life. The final section examines the continuing power of the Frankenstein story to articulate present-day concerns raised by new developments in biomedicine such as cloning and xenografting (the use of animal organs in human bodies), and the role scientists and citizens play in determining acceptable limits of scientific and medical advances.

Author Notes

Susan E. Lederer, who was the visiting curator for the National Library of Medicine's original exhibit on Frankenstein, is the author of Subjected to Science: Human Experimentation in America before the Second World War. She is an associate professor of the history of medicine at the Yale University School of Medicine and in Department of History at Yale University.

Table of Contents

Director's Introductionp. vi
Prologuep. viii
Introductionp. 1
The Birth of Frankensteinp. 3
The Celluloid Monsterp. 31
Promise and Perilp. 53
Notesp. 67
Acknowledgmentsp. 74