posted September 14, 2009

Lecture to Focus on French Frankenstein Novel

A Frankenstein novella that pre-dates Mary Shelley's famous story will be the focus of an address at Hope College on Monday, Sept. 21, at 4 p.m. in Winants Auditorium of Graves Hall.

The public is invited.  Admission is free.

The lecture, "The Frankenstein of 1790 and Other Missing Links from Revolutionary France," will be presented by Dr. Julia V. Douthwaite, professor of French at the University of Notre Dame.  She will be discussing her recent discovery of a French novella that centers on a scientist called Frankenstein who creates artificial life - a work that was published nearly three decades before Shelley's story appeared in 1818 - and consider the parable in the context of its times.

Douthwaite's research was featured in the July issue of "European Romantic Review."  Her article "The Frankenstein of the French Revolution: Nogaret's Automaton Tale of 1790," which she wrote with former Notre Dame graduate student Daniel Richter, explains that the name Frankenstein was used by the French author Francois-Felix Nogaret in his story "The Looking Glass of Actuality, or Beauty to the Highest Bidder."

Douthwaite teaches and writes on the literature and history of the French Enlightenment and the Revolution, and French-English relations.  Her present research focuses on how key events of the French Revolution - in political history, history of science and women's history - left their imprint on fictions published from 1789 to 1803.

Her book "The Frankenstein of 1790 and Other Missing Links from Revolutionary France" is forthcoming.  Past recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Lilly Foundation, she received a fellowship to support the research for and writing of the book from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation in 2006.

Douthwaite's other books include "The Wild Girl, Natural Man, and the Monster: Dangerous Experiments in the Age of Enlightenment" (University of Chicago Press, 2002) and "Exotic Women: Literary Heroines and Cultural Strategies in Ancien Régime France" (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1992).  With Prof. Mary Vidal (UCSD), she co-edited the 2005 volume, "The Interdisciplinary Century, SVEC 4"; and with Prof. David Lee Rubin (U of Virginia), she co-edited the special issues of "EMF: Studies in Early Modern France" dedicated to Cultural Studies, vols. 6-7 (2000-01).

In addition to "European Romantic Review," she has had articles in journals such as "Annales de la Société Jean-Jacques Rousseau," "Eighteenth-Century Studies," "Romanic Review," and "Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century."  She has also had chapters in books such as "Etre dix-huitiémiste 2," ed. Blum (2007); "Littérature et engagement pendant la Révolution française," eds. Brouard-Arends and Loty (2007); and "L'Engagement littéraire," ed. Bouju (2005).

On top of her scholarship and teaching, Douthwaite has for the past decade held a number of administrative positions.  Her administrative experiences included directing a research institute on the Notre Dame campus (1999-2001), directing the Notre Dame study-abroad program in Angers, France (2001-03), and, as assistant provost for international studies from 2003 to 2009, overseeing all undergraduate programs of study abroad and launching Notre Dame's strategic plan for internationalism.  As assistant provost, she was particularly pleased to launch in 2008 the M.A. exchange program between the University of Notre Dame and the Université de Rennes 2, and build other ties with premier institutions such as the University of Bologna and CambridgeUniversity.

Among her contributions to the profession, she is currently a member of the Executive Board of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies and the Advisory Board of SVEC (Oxford).  She has also served on the editorial boards of "Eighteenth-Century Studies," "French Forum" and "Eighteenth-Century Life."  Since 2003, she has also been membre associé of the groupe de recherche CELAM, at the Université de Rennes 2.

Douthwaite's address at Hope is sponsored by the college's women's studies program, department of modern and classical languages, department of English and cultural heritage program.

Graves Hall is located at 263 College Ave., between 10th and 12th streets.