April 30, 2018

Goucher Students and Alumna Present at Literary Conference

Two students and alumna presented at the “Reading Frankenstein, Reading the 21st Century” conference at Morgan State University.

  • Madeline St. John ’18, Gabriella Messinger ’16, Professor Juliette Wells, and Sebastian Bronson Boddie ’20.

With Goucher’s emphasis on experiential learning woven throughout the new curriculum, it was natural for Professor Juliette Wells to encourage her students to submit proposals for an upcoming conference. Earlier this month, Sebastian Bronson Boddie ’20, Madeline St. John ’18, and Gabriella Messinger ’16 took their studies to the “Reading Frankenstein, Reading the 21st Century” conference at Morgan State University, commemorating the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein

Based on coursework in their “The English Novel, From Austen to Woolf” class, the students worked with Wells, Goucher’s Elizabeth Conolly Todd distinguished professor of English, to examine Shelley’s literary classic and explore their ideas in three compelling papers examining topics associated with the book. The interdisciplinary conference at Morgan State explored ways the novel continues to impact today’s society.

“Given the historical ties between Goucher and Morgan State (John Franklin Goucher was a founder of what became Morgan) it was especially meaningful for our students to take part in a conference hosted by Morgan—the more so since all three Goucher students’ presentations dealt, in different ways, with aspects of race vis-à-vis Frankenstein,” says Wells.

This was the first time that the students and alumna presented their work at a public conference, a unique opportunity for undergraduate literature students, according to Wells. At their panel discussion, which Wells chaired, each of the participants also had the opportunity to field questions from the audience and reflect on their work.

“Participating in the Frankenstein conference at Morgan State was really important to me because it gave me a taste of how pursuing a career in English could look,” Boddie says. “The conference was a good foray into the world of literary criticism on the big stage, instead of just for a class.”

Boddie’s paper was titled “A Monster Among Humans: Drawing Parallels Between the Lived Experiences of People of Color and Frankenstein’s Creature.” Messinger wrote “Making Frankenstein’s Creature (and Trying Not to Become Victor in the Process)” and St. John presented “Extinguishing the Funeral Pyre: Creative Fiction Based on Frankenstein.

“As it was my first time presenting in a conference, I found that it was very satisfying to put together the presentation and find that I had something interesting to say,” St. John says. “Through both my own creative project and this conference, I enjoyed seeing how this classic novel could be interpreted and reinterpreted in new and interesting ways.”