Chautauqua Festival 2023 – Secrets Revealed – Mary Shelley
June 14 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Mary Shelley (1797-1851) performed by Susan Marie Frontczak.
Mary Shelley’s groundbreaking novel “Frankenstein”, poses the question: What is someone discovered the secret to creating life? It then explores the ramification of such a discovery: Are we capable of managing our technological creations? Furthermore, what responsibility (if any) do we hold in caring for abandoned or wronged members of society? Mary Shelley raises these questions from a context of living much of her life as an outsider — learning early on that her mother challenged societal norms and that she died as a result of Mary’s birth Growing up at odds with a stepmother who brought two children of her own into the marriage with her father, rejected by her father upon her elopement with Percy Bysshe Shelley, shunned for life by her husband’s family, and betrayed by a close friend. In fact, the big reveal in learning about Mary Shelley is to discover how much the story of the fantastical, wretched, hideous creature brought to life in a Swiss laboratory draws on parallels Mary experienced in England as an intelligent daughter of two notable middle-class authors and consort/wife of an aristocrat poet.
Susan Marie Frontczak has given more than 850 presentations as Marie Curie, Mary Shelley, Irene Castle, Clara Barton, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Erma Bombeck across 43 of the United States and abroad in her 21 years as a Living History scholar. She also works with both adults and youth to develop their own Chautauqua presentations. Susan Marie authored the Young Chautauqua coaching handbooks for Colorado Humanities and coaches students in grades 3 through 12. In 2o22, she joined the faculty of the new Chautauqua Training Institute run through North Dakota Humanities that is coaching a dozen new Chautauqua scholars across the country. For Susan Marie, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein represents coming full circle. In her early life she delighted in the magical and supernatural world of fairy tales. This was supplanted for a number of years by a career in the sciences and engineering. Frankenstein brings her back to the imaginary, albeit transformed in the possible by today’s medical and technological advances and shadowed by the question mark of bioethical responsibility.