Frankenstein: Penetrating the Secrets of Nature, by Susan Lederer

12/09/2002View on timeline


The organizers of a 1997 exhibition at the National Library of Medicine in Washington, D.C., wrote that the makers of the 1931 Frankenstein exploited a widespread belief in biological determinism “when they created a monster whose evil results from the lobes of his brain rather than his experiences or character” (Lederer 2002, 46).


Vidal, Fernando and Ortega, Francisco. Being Brains: Making the Cerebral Subject (Forms of Living)....

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About the book

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. - Amazon

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Susan Lederer, PhD, is Robert Turell Professor of Medical History and Bioethics at the School of Med...

Susan Lederer's profile at University of Wisconsin-Madison

Science Pub RVA: Philanthropy of the Body

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Published in 7/03/2019

Updated in 19/02/2021

All events in the topic Chap. 4: Brains on Screen:


Invalid DateFrankensteinFrankenstein
Invalid DateThe New York Times' review of FrankensteinThe New York Times' review of Frankenstein
Invalid DateBride of FrankensteinBride of Frankenstein
Invalid DateGhost of FrankensteinGhost of Frankenstein
Invalid DateYoung FrankensteinYoung Frankenstein
Invalid DateFrankenstein Must Be DestroyedFrankenstein Must Be Destroyed
Invalid DateHeart ConditionHeart Condition
Invalid DateHeartHeart
Invalid DateLa Horripilante Bestia HumanaLa Horripilante Bestia Humana
Invalid DateMovie adaptations of Orlac's HandsMovie adaptations of Orlac's Hands
Invalid DateThe Addams FamilyThe Addams Family
Invalid DateThe Beast with Five FingersThe Beast with Five Fingers
Invalid DateDr. Terror’s House of HorrorsDr. Terror’s House of Horrors
Invalid DateThe HandThe Hand
Invalid DateBody PartsBody Parts
Invalid DateThe Brain That Wouldn't DieThe Brain That Wouldn't Die
Invalid DateProfessor Dowell's TestamentProfessor Dowell's Testament
Invalid DateCold LazarusCold Lazarus
Invalid DateEctobrains in B-moviesEctobrains in B-movies
Invalid DateThe Man Who Changed His MindThe Man Who Changed His Mind
Invalid DateChange of MindChange of Mind
Invalid DateL'homme au cerveau grefféL'homme au cerveau greffé
Invalid DateMemory moviesMemory movies
Invalid DateThe Manchurian CandidateThe Manchurian Candidate
Invalid DateTotal RecallTotal Recall
Invalid DateMagdalena's BrainMagdalena's Brain
Invalid DateDark CityDark City
Invalid DateBlade RunnerBlade Runner
Invalid DateJohnny MnemonicJohnny Mnemonic
Invalid DateStrange DaysStrange Days
Invalid DateRemembering, by Frederic BartlettRemembering, by Frederic Bartlett
Invalid DateEternal Sunshine of the Spotless MindEternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Invalid DatePaycheckPaycheck
Invalid DateFlashbulb Memories, by Brown and KulikFlashbulb Memories, by Brown and Kulik
Invalid DateSpeak, Memory by Oliver SacksSpeak, Memory by Oliver Sacks