The students of Dr. Kirstyn Leuner's 18th-Century British Women's Literature course (ENG 144G), Spring 2018, produced this digital exhibit to accompany a rare book exhibit in the library at Santa Clara University. The June 7th showcase in Archives & Special Collections opened the exhibit as part of the event "Digital Humanities Showcase: Feminist Edition" that included exhibits by two additional English classes led by Dr. Amy Lueck and Dr. Michelle Burnham. Special thanks to Nadia Nasr, head of Archives & Special Collections, for co-teaching, collaborating, and hosting this event in the A&SC Gallery.


The 200th Anniversary Frankenstein Exhibit features Mary Shelley’s Gothic masterpiece through a small sample of the immense number of different editions of the text. While each of these variants still tell the same original story, their individuality is carefully taken into account by our exhibit in order to demonstrate how these singularities manage to tell the story in a new way for each generation. The unique reading experiences that these versions provide cater to a specific audience or consumer base. For example, a child-appropriate version of the book may tell the story with fewer but would augment the written text by using illustrations to capture the child’s imagination. This exhibit is designed to help expand one’s understanding of the text beyond the words on the page and take into account the whole experience each edition and variant provides to readers throughout the last two centuries. 

This exhibit features a large variety of different versions of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein that all have unique and individual features that cannot be found in any other version. These editions range from an inexpensive children’s copy that suffers from major printing errors, to an expensive masterpiece based on the 1818 edition of Frankenstein featuring beautifully detailed illustrations by Barry Moser. Our exhibit includes analyzes of each of the versions that you will be viewing, and what makes each of them unique, as well as why they were printed the way there were for the audience they were intended.

The earliest edition featured in this exhibit is a 1839 edition of Frankenstein, a household version that has remained remarkably intact 179 years later. Fast forward nearly a century, and you will find yourself surveying a 1932 Nino Carbe reprint of Shelley’s 1818 Frankenstein, illustrated with images evidently influenced by Hollywood imaginings of Frankenstein’s Creature. Next, this exhibit features two 1984 editions. The first is a Pennyroyal Barry Moser edition, a collector’s edition bound in leather and wrapped in crimson cloth, peppered with dark and haunting illustrations. The other is essentially a budget version of the leather-bound Pennyroyal edition, retaining the elegance and beauty of the original but retailing for a much cheaper price. The final edition of Frankenstein present in our exhibit is a 2004 C Louise March children’s addition of the Gothic classic, drawing in a wider audience with its simplified story and language, and accompanied with dramatic illustrations. The final book in this exhibit is not a reprint of Shelley’s Frankenstein but rather a history of scientific developments during the eighteenth century that influenced the imaginations of reanimation and spontaneous generation present in Frankenstein. This last is titled Making the Monster: The Science Behind Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, and was written in 2018 by chemist and science writer Kathryn Harkup.

Explore related items in the Bay Area by visiting digital Special Collections exhibits at San Jose State University and at University of San Francisco! Both exhibits exist in a collaboration with the Santa Clara University exhibit to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Find our collaboration website here: