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Sunday, December 10, 2006

Frankenstein is Dead

We've all been there. Or have we? At least I can count myself of those who have experienced a classroom full of 11th graders trying to get excited about Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Confessionally I may add that it is my first time reading the story. It was hard--it still remains hard--to find a student whose idea of Frankenstein has not been polluted by popular culture images of the creature. I understood from the beginning that what we were reading was literature, not entertainment. They, unfortunately, did not. During discussion students still aim to give their comments the "I-saw-the-movie-once" twist. I made the decision not to show the film once we are done with the book. Why? Because despite the fact that with every other book I do show the film as an enrichment activity, this one has already been accessed so much by their imaginations, recollections, delusions, etc., it is not worth watching and hear them complain it was not entertaining enough. What about the intricate value of the story itself... the higher art of it all, the ethical questions that arise from the experiment, the relationship between Elizabeth and Victor, the humanity of the creature (which by the way it is much more than that of his creator)? What about all these things? They would simply vanished if I showed the film. I don't want to sound like a prude but something is going to have to give when it comes to a generation who is totally averse to reading to enrich their lives. Those who do nowadays are in the simple minority.

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