Mary Shelley’s familiar monster invaded Cal State Fullerton on Oct. 27 as “The Frankenstein Meme Art Show and Special Collections Display” was set up in the Pollak Library.
This exhibit is part of the 200th anniversary and celebration of Mary Shelley’s famous book “Frankenstein.” Her work, seen as a huge literary influence, is rooted in science fiction but tends to resonate just as well in the horror genre.
“We know (memes) as fun. You can see how people take the same picture and put new words on it. They change it, they shift it, and pass it on,” said David Sandner, a Cal State Fullerton English professor who started the Frankenstein Meme project. “We are looking at Frankenstein and the literary influence of Mary Shelley’s story, so thinking about it as a cultural meme.”
The celebration of Shelley’s “Frankenstein” was a unified work of art put together between the English and art departments at CSUF, as well as special collections from the library. The library extended its collection of science fiction work to this exhibit, hoping to bring life to forgotten pieces of the genre.
Over the past two years, Sandner’s students were challenged with the task of unearthing all the “Frankenstein” novels or novels influenced by “Frankenstein.” Their work was then brought to life in the form of an online searchable database, where 200 years of literary work was compiled through research work.
Sandner’s students also received help from the Special Collections librarian Patricia Prestinary for the database and designer Laura Black for the look of the exhibit.
The art in the exhibit comes from professor Cliff Cramp and his students, who were tasked with the creation of artwork related to “Frankenstein.” Together they created physical representations of stories that have been passed down generations and take the shape of many different forms of “Frankenstein.”
“Our university already has a strong connection to science fiction and you could say that science fiction as it is today was birthed by Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein.’ People consider it to be the first work of science fiction,” said Nicole Vandever, former president and founding member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature Club.
Sandner described his desire for students to engage and resonate with the story as a closer look into the cultural connection it has played throughout the years. He referred to the “Frankenstein” meme as something that spreads, changes and can keep mutating forever.
As part of the “Frankenstein” celebration, there was also a marathon reading of Shelley’s famed work on Halloween day. The Frankenstein Meme exhibit and displays will be open to the public until Dec. 21.