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Frankenstein: Penetrating the Secrets of Nature: Frankenstein Home


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Frankenstein and Genetics

The stunning scientific advances of the last decade raise difficult ethical and policy questions. What, if any, are the constraints on scientific inquiry? Who should decide the limits of acceptable biomedical research? Since Mary Shelley first wrote Frankenstein: the Modern Prometheus almost two centuries ago, the story has gripped our imaginations and become a part of our popular mythology.  The exhibit explores the Frankenstein myth in popular culture and moral questions that arise as the monster becomes the scientist’s punishment for attempting to assume the role of God through the creation of new life.  These ideas are taken a step further through exploration of present-day issues in biomedicine. As the University of Iowa expands its genetics research, new challenges face the University in terms of ethics, morals, and responsibility to the public.

NLM Exhibition Home Page

Frankenstein: Penetrating the Secrets of Nature


October-November 2nd 2012, 2nd floor, south end, Old Capitol Center


The exhibit explores Mary Shelley's world that gave birth to Frankenstein. The exhibit examines how playwrights and filmmakers transformed the Frankenstein story into one of the Western world's most enduring myths. It considers how Mary Shelley's unfortunate creature frequently provides a framework for discussions of contemporary biomedical advances such as cloning, which challenge our traditional understanding of what it means to be human.


Developed by the National Library of Medicine in collaboration with the American Library Association.


Genetics Symposium

Obermann Center



Genetics in Literature, Life, and the Laboratory

Thursday, November 1st

Iowa City Public Library, Meeting Room A

7:00pm - 9:00pm


Ellen Wright Clayton, Rosalind E. Franklin Professor of Genetics and Health Policy; Professor of Pediatrics and Law; and Director, Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society, Vanderbilt University


Ellen Wright Clayton holds appointments in both the law and medical schools at Vanderbilt, where she also directs the Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society. She has published two books and more than 100 scholarly articles and chapters in medical journals, interdisciplinary journals and law journals on the intersection of law, medicine and public health. She has collaborated with faculty and students around the world on interdisciplinary research projects and helped develop policy statements for national and international organizations. An active participant in policy debates, she has advised the National Institutes of Health as well as other federal and international bodies on an array of topics ranging from children's health to the ethical conduct of research involving human subjects. She is the 2010 recipient of the William G. Bartholeme Award for Ethical Excellence from the American Academic of Pediatrics’ Section on Bioethics. 


Jay Clayton, William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of English; Director of the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise, and Public Policy, Vanderbilt University


Jay Clayton is the author of three books about 19th-century British literature, most recently Charles Dickens in Cyberspace: The Afterlife of the Nineteenth Century in Postmodern Culture, winner of the Glasscock Humanities Book Prize for Interdisciplinary Scholarship. Clayton's current research involves the ethical and social issues raised by genetics as they appear in literature and films, the subject of a forthcoming book. His recent work includes "Literature and Science Policy: A New Project for the Humanities, PMLA; " Victorian Chimeras, or, What Literature Can Contribute to Genetics Policy Today," New Literary History; "Frankenstein's Futurity: Clones, Replicants, and Robots," Cambridge Companion to Mary Shelley; and "Genome Time," Time and the Literary.  He has lectured on genetics and literature at the National Human Genome Research Institute at the NIH, the English Institute, the MLA, the Narrative Society, Society for Literature and Science, and medical schools around the country. He is the first professor of literature to receive a grant from the NIH.  He has just been appointed director of the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise, and Public Policy at Vanderbilt.

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