“A king is always a king –and a woman is always a woman: his authority and her sex ever stand between them and rational converse.” – Mary Wollstonecraft
Recent Berkeley graduate Julia Burke begins her essay, “Over Mary’s Dead Body: Frankenstein, Sexism & Socialism,” a historiography and cultural critique of Shelley’s Frankenstein, with the above epigraph from Mary Wollstonecraft, the great political philosopher and Mary Shelley’s mother. Burke’s research into the reception of Frankenstein and in its possible influence on socialist radicals of the 1840s earned her the prestigious 2018 Charlene Conrad Liebau Library Prize for Undergraduate Research, an annual prize awarded to students who have done exceptional research and made significant use of the Library’s resources.
Burke’s paper is the subject of this semester’s rotating Library Prize Exhibit, located on the second floor of Doe between the Heyns Reading Room and Reference Hall. Drawing on the Library and the Bancroft’s broad collections, the exhibit outlines Burke’s arguments in visual form with digitized replicas of the original 1818 edition of Frankenstein, an early copy of The Communist Manifesto, letters, contemporary reviews, and more. The exhibition of Burke’s project coincides with the bicentennial of Frankenstein’s publication. Originally published anonymously, Frankenstein’s true author was greatly contested, as Burke explores. Today it is one of the most important works of the literary canon and the most read novel in undergraduate courses nationwide. The exhibit was curated by Stacy Reardon, the Literature and Digital Humanities Librarian, and designed by Aisha Hamilton, the Exhibits and Environmental Graphics Coordinator. The exhibit will be up until April 2019.
The Charlene Conrad Liebau Library Prize for Undergraduate Research is awarded annually, and submissions are now open to all undergraduates until April 18, 2019. Any project from a credit course at U.C. Berkeley from Spring 2018 to Spring 2019 (lower division) or Summer 2018 to Spring 2019 (upper division) is eligible. The project can be in progress as of the due date of the application. In addition to a monetary award of $750 for lower-division winners and $1000 for upper-division winners, the recipients of the Library Prize publish their work in eScholarship, and two will be featured in an exhibit in the Library. Find out more information here.
You can see the rest of this year’s winners and honorable mentions here. Don’t forget to stop by the exhibit to see Burke’s work in person. More books related to Frankenstein in honor of the bicentennial can be found here.
January 1, 2018 marks the 200th birthday of one of the most famous works of literature in the English language—Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus.
The story of this famous work’s conception is outdone only by the book itself. Mary Shelley—then, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin—first conceived of the novel in a competition with other famous writers of the era, including Lord Byron and her future husband, Percy Shelley. The challenge? Who could come up with the best horror story. Needless to say, Mary Shelley won. Shelley was only twenty years old when Frankenstein was published anonymously, but she managed to create what some argue is the first true science fiction story. Since Frankenstein’s publication, it has inspired countless horror stories, Frankenstein copy-cat plots, and it has advanced the conceptual ground of science fiction itself.
Want to see the text that started it all? You’re in luck—Bancroft Archive has a first edition in the vault. This might not be practical for reading, however, so you can also head to Main Stacks for a copy that you can check out: