A remarkable gathering and a ghost story challenge stimulated two of the 19th century's most famous books: John Polidori’s 'The Vampyre' and Mary Shelley’s 'Frankenstein'. Emily Alder and Sarah Artt launch an ambitious new 3-year research project with a series of high profile events to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the writing and publication of Frankenstein.

About the Project

The Age of Frankenstein aims to explore and disseminate the cultural importance of Frankenstein for both public and scholarly audiences. The project commemorates the bicentenary of Frankenstein’s publication in 1818. In late 2017 and throughout 2018, a series of symposia, public talks and film screenings will explore the notion of the twenty-first century as the ‘Age of Frankenstein’, looking at where, how and why Frankenstein continues to feed modern culture so profoundly and in such a diverse multi-disciplinary way (in re-tellings and re-appropriations in written and visual forms, but also across academic disciplines and the media). These activities build on the success of two public engagement events in June 2016. 2018 activities will conclude with a conference in late November.

Further information

Any questions? Email Emily Alder or Sarah Artt

Twitter: @200Frankenstein

Moving Creatures: Frankenstein on Screen

Throughout May 2017, we ran a series of events devoted to more unusual interpretations of Frankenstein. We held three screenings at the Cameo Cinema on 4, 11 and 18 May. These were followed by audience discussion, where we debated the merits of Young Frankenstein (Mel Brooks, 1974), Eyes Without A Face/les yeux sans visage (Georges Franju, 1959) and The Skin I Live In/La piel que habito (Pedro Almodovar, 2011). This was followed by a panel discussion event at National Library of Scotland on 23 May where we examined the legacy of Frankenstein on stage and screen. We welcomed a range of exciting guests to our events. At our Young Frankenstein screening , Rachael Durkin (Edinburgh Napier) discussed the use of music in the film and Shelley’s novel, and Terence Sayers (Queen Margaret University) discussed the film’s cinematic influences. At Eyes Without A Face, Tara Thomson (Edinburgh Napier University) commented on the role of the flaneuse as victim and Charlotte Bosseaux (University of Edinburgh) discussed issues of translation and subtitling. At our final screening of The Skin I Live In, Ann Davies (University of Stirling) introduced the film, and afterwards Véronique Desnain (University of Edinburgh) discussed the film’s adaptation from the novel Mygale and its relationship to Frankenstein. At our NLS event, Sorcha Ní Fhlainn (Manchester Metropolitan University) offered an overview of key moments of Frankenstein on film from the silent era to the present; Benjamin Poore (University of York) commented on recent stage adaptations, and Sarah Artt (Edinburgh Napier) gave a more detailed reading of Young Frankenstein, Eyes Without a Face, and The Skin I Live In.

Unquiet Dreams: Ghost Stories at the Villa Diodati

National Library of Scotland, 16 June 2016

This public event was organized for the anniversary of the ‘birth’ of Frankenstein in summer 1816. In June 1816, the ‘year without a summer’, Lord Byron rented the Villa Diodati on Lake Geneva, where a remarkable gathering and a ghost story challenge stimulated two of the most famous literary works in nineteenth-century Gothic: John Polidori’s The Vampyre and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. This public event revisited that meeting, in an evening of performance, talks and discussion that explored this significant moment in Gothic fiction’s history and the cultural legacy of these writers for literature, science, and film. Professor Dale Townshend, University of Stirling/Manchester Metropolitan University, and Dr Linnie Blake, Manchester Metropolitan University, joined Dr Emily Alder and Dr Sarah Artt from Edinburgh Napier University for a lively conversation about the Gothic then and now.

Edinburgh Napier University graduate actors Alex Card and Calum Ferguson kicked off the evening with an excerpt from Howard Brenton’s play Bloody Poetry, directed by Dr Donna Soto Morettini. In this scene, Percy Shelley and a drunken Lord Byron argue over poetry, idealism, and revolution, demonstrating the passion and radicalism that underscored the early nineteenth century Gothic.

Dale Townshend began the talks by speaking about the texts of physician and author John Polidori. Dale explored Polidori’s novel Ernestus Berchtold (1819)¸ suggesting that it was the most troubling Gothic ‘monster’ to emerge from this literary moment. Next, Emily Alder took us to the controversial world of nineteenth century science. In the early nineteenth century the boundaries of science were often indistinct and in Frankenstein, breadth of knowledge is important, combining the scientific with humanist and artistic ideas. Finally, Linnie Blake traced some of the many adaptations and retellings of Frankenstein that have proliferated on film and television in the past century, from Edison’s 1910 Kinetograph to the television series Penny Dreadful (2014-16). Finally, Sarah Artt led the panel in a series of thought-provoking questions. This was followed by questions from members of the audience about Mary Shelley as a woman writer and John Polidori’s connections to the city of Edinburgh.

Frankenstein’s Workshop of Creation

Surgeons’ Hall Museums, 23 June 2016

Upon arrival, workshop participants were invited to explore the collections at Surgeons’ Hall Museums and draw upon them for inspiration. Information about the history of medicine and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was provided by workshop leader Dr Laura Joyce (formerly Lecturer in English and Film at Edinburgh Napier University, and now Lecturer in Creative Writing at University of East Anglia). Laura was assisted by Edinburgh Napier MA Creative Writing graduates Abigail Wright, Katy Lennon, and Lidia Molina-Whyte. Freshly inspired by the collection, participants were then invited to create a piece of fiction or poetry, and a creative writing competition followed this workshop. Shannon Rollins attended the Frankenstein Workshop - here's her blog about the event.