When Anita Turlington and Diana Edelman examine Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” and Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein,” they don’t just see classic monsters, but a reflection of society.
“We should interpret them (monsters) because they will tell us something about ourselves and our culture,” Turlington said. “Especially those monsters that never quite go away.”
From noon to 1 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 30, the two University of North Georgia English professors will dust off the cobwebs on these two novels and discuss their relevancy to today. Several members of the university’s theatre department also plan to perform monologues from each book.
People will be able to ask questions during the webinar and view it for free via Facebook Live on UNG’s social media.
Edelman, who specializes in Gothic literature, said she has a close relationship with “Frankenstein,” which became part of her dissertation. During the live discussion, she plans to touch on the novel’s themes and explain why it is still relevant in 2020.
“Dracula” and “Frankenstein”
What: Two UNG experts discuss Gothic literature classics, “Dracula” and “Frankenstein”
When: Noon to 1 p.m., Friday, Oct. 30
Where: Live on UNG’s Facebook page
“It asks questions about how far is too far in science, and it requires us to think about what it means to be different from the norm,” Edelman said. “The creature (Frankenstein’s monster) represents otherness, someone who doesn’t fit into cultural norms.”
Edelman said Frankenstein’s monster also exposes the nature versus nurture debate by posing the question: Are monsters born or made?
“Is he evil because he was created from dead bodies and naturally a monster, or is he evil because he gets treated so poorly because he’s so hideous?” Edelman said. “How much of our identity is nature and how much is nurture?”
Edelman said she hopes viewers realize that the novel “Frankenstein” is more than a book touching on the problems of scientific advancements.
“It’s more complicated than that,” she said. “Social issues are relevant here. Victor Frankenstein’s creature is different and other. How he is treated causes him to be a terrible human being. It brings up issues of parenting and biological parallels with Mary Shelley’s life and how her father treated her.”
While Edelman will speak on “Frankenstein,” Turlington will focus on “Dracula.” Turlington’s expertise lies in late Victorian literature and she regularly incorporates “Dracula” into her teaching.
When introducing her students to the novel, Turlington said many are already familiar with vampire TV shows and movies like “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Twilight.” She said they become surprised to find out Dracula is not the attractive figure flaunted in pop culture, but instead an Eastern European nobleman from a decaying family heritage who invades England.
Over time, vampires have remained in literature and film, but their image has changed. Turlington said this is due to people’s enduring fascination with youth, eternal life and the fear of death.
“We have continued to recreate that figure,” she said. “For us that figure in the last 20 years represents glamorous youth, strength and eternal life."
Zombies, ghosts and vampires now dominate the horror genre, and Turlington said this is because people continue to remain preoccupied with them and latch onto the themes they embody.
After tuning in to the discussion about “Dracula” and “Frankenstein,” Turlington said she wants people to feel inspired to read the two Gothic literature novels.
"I’d like them to think about why we are so fascinated with monsters,” Turlington said. “To think about what that says about us and the kinds of monsters that appeal to us, what that might mean. I’d like for them to interpret a bit of the movies we go see and books we read and come away with their interest piqued a little bit.”