Arts and Ideas

The Afterlives of Frankenstein: Extinction, Emergence, and the Haunted Screen

Registration is required. We are at full capacity for this event.

Since 1910, when Thomas Edison’s movie studio released a Frankenstein, doing so at a moment when film technology was barely a decade old, Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel has haunted the screen. It has been adapted again and again over the last two centuries, likely because it models for movie-makers their own dream of an animating power that can bring dead matter to life. Commemorating the bicentennial of the novel’s publication, and held in conjunction with a film series running at the Harvard Film Archive in late October, this day-long symposium investigates how and why Shelley’s monster retains this grip on the cinematic imagination. The speakers and their audience will investigate together what the monster’s many afterlives can teach us about the power of the image, about technologies of artificial reproduction, and about cultures’ shifting understandings of the boundaries between life and death.


Homi Bhabha
Anne F. Rothenberg Professor of English, Harvard University
Director, Mahindra Humanities Center

James Chandler
Richard J. Franke Professor of English, University of Chicago

Thomas Gunning
Edwin A. and Betty L. Bergen Distinguished Service Professor of Art History, Media and Cinema Studies, University of Chicago

Adam Hart
Visiting Assistant Professor of Film Studies, University of Pittsburgh

Jill Lepore
David Woods Kemper '41 Professor of American History, Harvard University

Deidre Lynch
Ernest Bernbaum Professor of English Literature, Harvard University

Moira Weigel
Junior Fellow, Harvard Society of Fellows



Welcome and Opening Remarks


Panel 1
Chaired by Margaret Rhee, Harvard College Fellow, Department of English
Thomas Gunning
Deidre Lynch
Adam Hart


Lunch Break


Panel 2
Chaired by Steven Biel, Executive Director, Mahindra Humanities Center, Harvard / Senior Lecturer in Program in History and Literature
James Chandler
Moira Weigel
Jill Lepore


Closing Remarks by Homi Bhabha and Closing Discussion


Reception, Houghton Library
Viewing of "Stage Fright, or the Fate of Frankenstein"


Networked Events of the Romantic Bicentennials Initiative
Keats-Shelley Association of America
Mahindra Humanities Center, Harvard University
Houghton Library, Harvard University
Provostial Fund for Arts and Humanities, Harvard University
Department of English, Harvard University

In Memoriam

David Pendleton
Film Programmer, Harvard Film Archive

Free and open to the public; seating is limited.

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