Planning for Frankenstein celebration starts years in advance

(Photo courtesy of Nina Miller) (Photo courtesy of Nina Miller)

ASU will participate in a global Frankenstein celebration that will last approximately two years. The festivity will commemorate Mary Shelley’s "Frankenstein" from 2016 to 2018.

2018 will mark the book’s bicentennial anniversary, but ASU has decided to begin the celebration in 2016 to celebrate the story’s entire creative process.

Coordinator senior research and operations at the Center for Science and the Imagination, Joey Eschrich said this two year project will commence in 2016 because 1816 was when Mary Shelly began to write the story.

The novel, published in 1818, founded the gothic horror and science fiction genres, Eschrich said.

“We have this great opportunity, because Shelley has kept meticulous records of all of their travels in her readings and writings and the interactions with their friends and their literary circle,” Eschrich said.

“We’re able to commemorate and track the entire creative process that Mary Shelley went through, and try to replicate, expand, and enrich that, and look for echoes and resonances 200 years later,” Eschrich said.

Co-director of the Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes David Guston and director of the Center for Science and the Imagination Ed Finn developed the idea of a global Frankenstein celebration in spring 2012.

Guston said ASU will be reaching out to partners at universities and other organizations in a global way.

“There are important resources and potential partners elsewhere, including, for example, the original manuscript of 'Frankenstein' resides at Oxford University, Mary Shelley and the salon group was in Switzerland when the idea was generated, and that’s where the novel is largely set,” Guston said. “The novel also takes place in England and Ireland as well, and so we want to involve people from there,” Guston said.

Ed Finn said the story is an enduring myth about creation and responsibility and would like to include this theme in the celebration.

Although there are no finalized plans, Finn said now is the time to invite a global conversation and participation.

“We’ve been talking to the Science Museum of Minnesota about the possibility about putting together a major traveling exhibition around Frankenstein. We’re talking with all sorts of people about ideas that include maybe a film festival, maybe it would be a global film festival,” Finn said. “Another idea is having a collective reading of 'Frankenstein' across the whole campus.”

“We’re excited about writing projects, art and design projects, music, performances and films,” Finn said.

Eschrich said the planning years in advance is in order to expand ASU’s global network and to collaborate with other research institutions, literary groups, film makers, artists and writers.

The current planning is also to create a critical mass of thinking, public outreach and scholarship and to create new conversations and discussions using the lessons and themes of "Frankenstein," Eschrich said.

ASU will be attempting to get firm commitments and funding for the ideas, as well as partnering with organizations on campus that include the Institute for Humanities Research, the Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics, the Center for Biology and Society, the Jewish Studies program, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the School of Arts, Media and Engineering, the Center for Science and Imagination and Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes, ASU Libraries and the ASU Art Museum.

Students interested in getting involved with the project can speak to David Guston or Ed Finn or join the email list at


Reach the reporter at or follow her @jackiecsolis

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