Over 100 students and faculty celebrated the 200th year anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s novel “Frankenstein” during an all-day readathon co-sponsored by the Center for British Studies and First-Year Students Program.
Starting Wednesday morning from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., students and faculty visited the York Room in the Birch Mansion to take turns reading the 1818 edition of the novel in its entirety.
“There are groups, institutions and so forth around the world who are celebrating the novel this year, and one of the ways which they’re celebrating the novel is by doing day-long readings,” said Dr. Daffron, who facilitated the readathon.
Halloween candy, Frankenstein cupcakes and other snacks were available as refreshments throughout the day. “It’s really not a formal affair, it’s really meant to showcase the novel, have fun and experience such a great novel,” Dr. Daffron said.
Dr. Daffron teaches a freshman seminar called “Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’: The Bicentennial,” which examines how “Frankenstein” has impacted popular culture 200 years after its publication. Many students from Dr. Daffron’s FYS course and students from other literature and writing classes volunteered to read throughout the day.
The York Room’s still, tranquil atmosphere, coupled with the fall foliage in the paneled windows, offered an ideal setting for the all-day reading.
Junior literature major Charlie Leppert said his literature classes often discuss how reading stories aloud in a group setting is an important pastime for people of former generations, but the practice has become less significant in modern culture.
“It’s nice to go back to something like this and as a community experience a story. The idea of experiencing a story is really neat,” said Leppert, who had read in the morning and revisited the readathon near the end of the novel.
Other students felt they could better engage with the story by hearing and reading the story aloud.
“You really feel in tune with the story once you’re there reading it, as well as hearing other people read it,” said freshman Rachael Ruszkowski, who recalled reading “Frankenstein” in high school. As an auditory learner, she found it easier to follow the story during this readathon. “It’s like transforming the words from the paper into a reality you can envision.”
The 1818 edition of “Frankenstein” that students and faculty read aloud from contains more sophisticated language than later, more accessible versions of the novel. Although this proved to be a challenging task for students, many found reading it aloud helped them appreciate the novel's language and style.
“It has highlighted just how specific the language is because reading it aloud is different from reading it in your head. Reading it aloud, you can hear the intricacies of the words,” said junior Noelle Gizzi.
The readathon marked the beginning of Ramapo’s “Frankenstein” celebration, which will be highlighted again during November for the stage production of “Frankenstein” in the Sharp Theater.