Visualizing Literature, Featuring Frankenstein: It’s Alive!

This post was written by Cynthia Becht, head of archives and special collections for the William H. Hannon Library. Becht works with ART 333 faculty each year to prepare students for the annual “Visualizing Literature” exhibit.

We are still reveling in the wonderfully creative work Loyola Marymount University students accomplished during Fall 2020’s remote instruction. In particular, take a look at the results of ART 333 (“Visualizing Literature”), taught by Brenno Kaneyasu in the Department of Art and Art History last semester. This course is designed to weave literature, information literacy skills, and art studies together, to probe deep questions and present responses through an art exhibition. Past courses have focused on literary classics such as Moby Dick, as well as genres like fairy tales and travel literature.

This year, Kaneyasu led his students through a powerful exploration of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, including works that influenced and inspired the author. You can explore their digital exhibition. We were captivated by Kaneyasu’s first email to us, where he described plans for students to connect their artistic journey to themes that continue to resonate today: “the monstrous and the other, human vs. inhuman, human vs. animal, questions of diversity and inclusion, man vs. god (hubris), bioethics, nature vs. science, Frankenstein as collage.”

Students in ART 333 visited the library twice – virtually, of course! In their first visit, students engaged with rare books from archives and special collections. These works included first editions of Milton’s Paradise Lost and Coleridge’s poem “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” alongside illustrated science works from the 17th century, depicting imaginary animals, human medical conditions, and hybrids between the two. During their second visit, Library Events Manager Carol Raby shared contemporary children’s books with illustrations that further highlighted Frankenstein themes. These included the award-winning picture book, Golem, by David Wisniewski and the biography, Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein, by Linda Bailey.

Enjoy the amazing digital exhibition produced by the class. Instead of presenting their final art works on display as we are used to hosting inside the library building, ART 333 students, through a virtual platform, have been able to share their process work as well; art they produced along the path of discovery. We are pretty sure we can spot a bit of Jesuit author Schott’s Physica Curiosa (1667) inspiring some of the early designs. Congratulations to all the ART 333 students on completing their exhibition!