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Spooktacular success of Cardiff FrankenFest

14 November 2018

Cardiff University has opened its doors to celebrate the bicentenary of Mary Shelley’s immortal gothic novel with a series of spooktacular events

Cardiff Frankenfest took place in the ten days running up to Halloween 2018, 200 years after the ground-breaking novel was published. The series focused on a different aspect of the novel in its four free events, with 130 people attending over ten days.

The first, A Stormy Night of Ghost-Telling, focused on new research into Fantasmagoriana, the French ghost stories that inspired the composition of Frankenstein by Maximiliaan van Woudenberg [Sheridan Institute of Technology, Canada/University of Cambridge].

The interdisciplinary Of What a Strange Nature Is Knowledge event showcased the research of University staff [Jamie Castell, Barbara Hughes-Moore and Keir Waddington] working in English Literature, Law and History respectively.

Most popular was Mary Shelley Night with a free screening of recent biopic Mary Shelley starring Elle Fanning. Jointly run with Cardiff BookTalk, this third event interrogated the film’s representation of the author, illuminated by the research of Anna Mercer (Cardiff University/Keats House) into the Shelley family papers.

The finale on Halloween ‘My Hideous Progeny’ combined readings and discussions of key passages of Frankenstein, a live video link with colleagues from the University of Lancaster and a specially composed FrankenQuiz.

Capitalising on the public resource of the University’s archives, the majority of the events were hosted at the University’s Special Collections and Archives.

“We celebrate these kinds of anniversaries because of the enduring cultural capital that novels like Frankenstein have gathered over the centuries” explained the series curator, Professor of Print and Digital Cultures Anthony Mandal.

Frankenstein tells a universal story about our uneasy relationship as humans with science and technology; it asks us to consider what our ethical responsibilities are to the fruits of our own knowledge and imagination; and it raises topical questions about our impact on the environment.”

“While there are many elements specific to its actual period of composition, during the Regency era, Shelley’s highly philosophical novel has transcended its own time to achieve something of a mythic status” he added.

Cardiff FrankenFest was part of the Frankenreads initiative— the international celebration of the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein organized by the Keats–Shelley Association of America and supported by over 600 organisation in 43 countries.

The innovative series built on the success of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, 1818–2018: Circuits and Circulation. The international conference in Bologna, co-organised by Cardiff University and the Open University brought together leading international and emerging scholars in gothic and romantic studies in September.

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