In this talk, we examine the role of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein as the foundational text defining the field of Medical Humanities. More so than any other, Frankenstein embodies the interdisciplinary nature of medical humanities and requires us to not only identify the various disciplines of which it is comprised, but more importantly to articulate the disciplinary interactions and their effect on the interplay of science, medicine, art and humanity. The text, written 200 years ago, prompts consideration of the role of science in human development, medical treatment and complex decision making as well as questioning what it really means to be human. Shelley’s text addresses important ethical issues inherent in scientific research and progress. It serves as a leaping off point for rigorous ethical analysis and deliberation requiring us to consider the history of science as well as its potential future. In addition, we must explore various representations of the human form from artistic, historical, scientific and pop culture perspectives and most importantly, our response to them. Through a close, careful reading of the primary literary text in its entirety and a collection of companion readings from various disciplinary perspectives, we equip ourselves to raise and even address questions concerning the history of eugenics, genetic manipulation, beginning and end-of-life, organ transplantation, human cloning, artificial intelligence and precision medicine. In so doing, not only do we develop a comprehensive understanding of medical humanities, but we do so through the intense scrutiny of a classic literary text. We will discuss how through the lens of literary analysis, philosophical examination and an understanding of the history of medicine, Frankenstein comes to life 200 years after its first publication to exquisitely define the field and our future.
DateOctober 5, 2018, 7:00pm - 8:00pm