Abstract

European Romanticism and Frankenstein: A Comparative Literature Course for English Majors

"European Romanticism and Frankenstein: A Comparative Literature Course for English Majors" outlines a course that prepares future teachers of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to acknowledge the novel’s French and German influences. Such influences include Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Confessions and The Sufferings of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, one of the texts that the creature finds in the forest. The essay offers ways to introduce topics such as the French Revolution (the backdrop for the DeLacey family’s story) and argues for the importance of teaching Romantic irony as a way to approach literature of the period, particularly French and German Romantic poetry. The course invites students to explore European texts with similar themes as Frankenstein. E. T. A. Hoffmann’s novella The Sandman (published a year before Frankenstein) and Goethe’s Faust also feature doubles, death and rebirth, and scientists.