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UK lecturer to discuss Frankenstein in light of 1832 Anatomy Act

San Antonio (Feb. 11, 2003) — The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA) will host Dr. Tim Marshall for his presentation "Murdering to Dissect: Frankenstein and the 1832 Anatomy Act" at noon Wednesday, Feb. 19, in the Howe Conference Room of the Briscoe Library at UTHSCSA's Central Campus, 7703 Floyd Curl Drive.

Dr. Marshall believes the third edition of Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein, which appeared in 1831, acquires new meanings when the circumstances of the time are explained. He offers a historical analysis of the novel in relation to the anatomy reform debate of the 1820s, a period when grave-robbing gangs were supported by surgeons who bought the newly buried bodies for dissection.

The highly profitable "resurrection" trade led to the 1828 Burke and Hare case. Burke and Hare were brought to trial for murdering old vagrants, whose deaths they believed would go unnoticed, then selling the bodies to the Edinburgh surgeon Robert Knox, who was known for paying top dollar for cadavers. Dr. Marshall's presentation explores the connection between the factual 1832 Anatomy Act, which ended the grave-robbing trade by allowing the sale of unclaimed pauper bodies for dissection, and the fantasy of Shelley's novel, which notes a troubled period in the medical profession.

Dr. Marshall's presentation is in conjunction with the exhibit "Frankenstein: Penetrating the Secrets of Nature," which will be on display at the Briscoe Library March 3-21. "Frankenstein: Penetrating the Secrets of Nature" was developed by the National Library of Medicine in collaboration with the American Library Association. It has been made possible by major grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Library of Medicine. The traveling exhibition is based upon a major exhibition produced by the National Library of Medicine in 1997-1998.

Dr. Marshall is senior lecturer of English literature at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, Norfolk, United Kingdom. He is the author of the book Murdering to Dissect: Grave-robbing, Frankenstein and the Anatomy Literature and of the chapter "Frankenstein and the 1832 Anatomy Act" in Gothick: Origins and Innovations.

Contact: Aileen Salinas