SJSU Celebrates Frankenstein’s 200

By Simon Tran

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein turns 200 this year, and the Frankenstein Bicentennial Celebration is uniting SJSU, Santa Clara University (SCU), and University of San Francisco (USF) to celebrate the novel’s legacy. Frankenstein has sparked important debates throughout its long history and is especially relevant to the Silicon Valley because it dares to test the limits of science and the ethics of technological advancement and human innovation.

At the helm of the Frankenstein Bicentennial Celebration are SJSU’s Dr. Katherine Harris, SCU’s Dr. Kirstyn Leunar, and USF’s Dr. Omar Miranda. For this celebration, these professors aim to highlight student contribution and collaboration.

“One of the things we have to do is answer what it is to be a team rather than a group,” says Harris. “It’s not about divide and conquer, but collaborating to increase the amount of intellectual ideas.”

SJSU students are participating in the Frankenstein Bicentennial Celebration in a number of ways. In Harris’ English 10: Great Works of Literature, students are in charge of running the Bicentennial website, re-examining Dr. Victor Frankenstein through a mock trial with the help of the debate team, and hosting a film festival showcasing films related to the core themes of Frankenstein. In addition, her English 100W class will be curating a Frankenstein exhibit with help from the King Library.

Harris has also reached out to other faculty members to participate in this celebration. Lower-division GE English classes are teaching Frankenstein and related works. Dr. Edwin Sams’ English 22: The Graphic Novel class will be studying Destroyer, a graphic novel based on Frankenstein that handles contemporary issues of race and class. Students in Dr. Mark Thompson’s English 110: Visual Rhetoric and Documentation Design will create promotional flyers for the bicentennial.

Plans are also underway to increase involvement from students all over campus for fall 2018. Students from the Department of Film and Theatre will be participating in the Frankenstein Radio Play with guidance from Director Buddy Butler.

Harris hopes to include Frankenstein into the ENGL 1A curriculum, introduce the novel to incoming students through the Summer Reading Program, and work with students outside of the college.

Collaborations with SCU and USF students have also started. So far, students and faculty from SCU and USF can make comments and initiate discussions on the Frankenstein Bicentennial Celebration website. They can also attend and participate in public events affiliated with the Frankenstein Bicentennial. Harris hopes to expand upon cross-campus collaboration in the upcoming months.

“The Silicon Valley has access to a diverse group of students with an abundance of knowledge,” says Harris. “They have all this information that can cross-pollinate. They just don’t know it yet.”

This is only just the beginning. Students can expect more events and other opportunities to contribute to the Frankenstein Bicentennial Celebration.

For more information about this celebration and related upcoming events, visit