The last week of September is officially Banned Books Week, during which the American Library Association celebrates the freedom to read even the most-commonly censored stories. Such “challenged books” are named so out of concern that they will shape young minds in negative ways. Reading is, indeed, a powerful act, introducing us to perspectives, cultures, and eras. These stories (both the true and the imaginary) enlarge our sense of self and others. Stories grow us, mature us, refine us. They make us who we are.
While reading is one act that makes us, it’s not the only one. All of our pursuits work together in this way, fashioning us into unique creatures. This is the focus of Persuasion‘s fall series, What We Make of Ourselves. Week by week we will work through Mary Shelley’s classic story Frankenstein, identifying what the themes of this 19th-century classic has to say about life in the 21st century. In this episode of Persuasion, Erin Straza and Hannah Anderson dig into the background of the story, starting with what we’ve gotten wrong due to the many cultural adaptations. Hollywood has taken a seed of Mary Shelley’s classic and grown an entirely new story that overshadows the original. While Shelley did write a horror story, it’s not a gory slasher, although there is death and loss. It’s about the horrors that result when the human soul pursues ambition and seeks glory without restraint. Erin and Hannah also discuss what shaped Mary Shelley’s unusual life, as her family of origin, her personal sorrows, and the cultural climate all contributed to the story she wrote. Her life circumstances shaped her art, even though she attempted to detach herself from it. What we create is a reflection of who we are. Does this mean we have no say in who we can be in life? What influence does the cultural atmosphere have on our perspectives? Can we separate our flawed selves from the good we create in our lives? Listen in for dialogue on questions like these as we take a look at what we make of ourselves. Then continue the conversation on Twitter @PersuasionCAPC or in the CAPC members-only community on Facebook.
If you’d like to read along for this series, check the reading schedule posted online. We recommend B&H Publishing’s Frankenstein: A Guide to Reading and Reflecting (Karen Swallow Prior, Mary Shelley). Whether you read along or not, listen in for conversation weaving the themes of identity, formation, creation, and community.
FRANKENSTEIN READING SCHEDULE
Conversations for our fall series will center on Mary Shelley’s original 1818 edition of Frankenstein. We will be reading from the recent release from B&H Publishing, Frankenstein: A Guide for Reading and Reflecting, edited by Karen Swallow Prior. Here’s the reading schedule (page numbers match the B&H edition) if you want to read along with us:
- 9/28 EP 223 Reading 1: Volume I, Preface–Chapter 3 (pp. 27–78)
- 10/5 EP 224 Reading 2: Volume I, Chapters 4–7 (pp. 78–121)
- 10/12 EP 225 Reading 3: Volume II, Chapters 1–4 (pp. 129–162)
- 10/19 EP 226 Reading 4: Volume II, Chapters 5–9 (pp. 162–206)
- 10/26 EP 227 Reading 5: Volume III, Chapters 1–4 (pp. 211–256)
- 11/2 EP 228 Reading 6: Volume III, Chapters 5–7 (pp. 256–306)
This episode of Persuasion is sponsored in part by B&H Publishing Group, publisher of Frankenstein: A Guide to Reading and Reflecting (Karen Swallow Prior, Mary Shelley). B&H Publishing seeks to provide intentional, biblical content that positively impacts the hearts and minds of people, cultivating lifelong relationships with Jesus Christ. Learn more at bhpublishinggroup.com.
PERSUASION 222 RESOURCES & LINKS
Frankenstein: A Guide to Reading and Reflecting, Karen Swallow Prior, Mary Shelley
How to Read a Book, Adler Mortimer
How to Read a Book, Kwame Alexander
How to Read a Book Roundup
“Infinite Jerk,” The New Republic
The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill podcast series, Christianity Today
Did you enjoy this episode of Persuasion? Give the series a listen:
Persuasion 221 | Imposter Syndrome (but with books)
Theme music by Maiden Name. Produced by Jonathan Clauson.
If you are interested in sponsoring an episode of Persuasion, please email us for available packages and rates.
This transcript has been edited to enhance readability.