JADE DOTY ’18 | CAVELIFE EDITOR • The Spooky Spirit of Halloween was flying high at Wabash on October 31st as faculty, staff, and students of Wabash alike participated in a read-a-thon of Mary Shelley’s renowned Frankenstein. During the eerie holiday, a piece of Halloween lore made its way into the academia of Wabash College through the celebration of Shelley’s unique story. The event was funded through the Indiana Humanities Council. Many schools like Wabash are participating in a program called One State/One Story which focuses on Shelley’s famous text. Several colleges are celebrating the text in different ways through grant funding from the Indiana Humanities Council. Notre Dame, UIndy, IUPUI are some of the universities that are taking part in the program, celebrating Frankenstein in different ways.
The Indiana Humanities Frankenfest took place on September 30th at the Indiana Medical History Museum. The event featured celebrity readers, a pop-up exhibit of rare anatomical texts, craft frankenstein themed beers, and several hands on activities. Diane Norton, Circulation and Music Collection Coordinator, organized the entire event and thought that a read-a-thon of the text would work best at Wabash.
“I think the important thing was to concentrate on the text because when you read it aloud and listen to it, you’re more directly involved with the text than when you’re reading it to yourself silently,” Norton said. “The people who signed up to read all had different reasons for reading. I think Frankenstein is deeply profound and holds different meanings for everyone who reads it.”
Norton’s husband Jamey, a former Dean of Marion University in Indianapolis, played a large part in the grant funding. Jamey Norton, a Frankenstein scholar, suggested to the Indiana Humanities Council that Shelley’s book should be the focus of the Council’s One State/One Story program due the text having its 200th Anniversary in 2018. After conversation with her husband, Norton took initiative and thought Wabash would be a great participant in the program.
The reading at Wabash was recorded for the College’s youtube account and was entered into the Indiana Humanities program. The festivities were kicked off with a reading by Associate Professor of English Crystal Benedicks, a scholar of Victorian Era literature. “I was completely wowed by Crystal Benedicks’ introduction,” Norton said. “She writes so beautifully. I loved that she gave a view of the text from many different perspectives that tied well into Wabash’s all male environment.” President Gregory Hess followed Benedicks’ introduction with the first opening pages of the story. Every individual reader read until their 15 minute increment expired. Professors Shamira Gelbman, Matthew Lambert, Ivette Wilson, Derek Mong, Michele Pittard, and Greg Redding participated, as well as staff members Rachel Barclay, Scott Feller, Amy Weir, Jim Amidon, Jeff Beck, Macanda Myers, and Adrea Hernandez. In addition, a number of students participated, and Theater Department Chair James Cherry concluded the event with a 30 minute final reading.
A showing of Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein also played in the Goodrich Room at 8 p.m. A bonus showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show followed Brooks’ film. Throughout the day, fresh fall apple cider and ginger cookies were served to those in attendance and Oxford Edition copies of Shelley’s Frankenstein were given to the students who participated in the reading. Students at Wabash College are familiar with Shelley’s famous text through the freshmen course Enduring Questions, but most Wabash students would be hard pressed to find a better setting to celebrate Halloween than revisiting the beautiful and dark text in the Lilly Library this past Tuesday.