Mary Shelley began Frankenstein at the age of eighteen in the Summer of 1818 at the Villa Diodati on the shore of Lake Geneva. The events that shaped and inspired her most influential creation have been mythologized and dramatized ever since, most notably by Shelley herself in the Introduction to the 1831 edition of the novel ,wherein she details with all of the Gothic atmosphere the novel has come to resonate with, the events of that ghastly evening when she and her compatriots (poets Lord Byron and her future husband Percy Shelley, her step-sister Claire Claremont, and John Polidori—Byron’s physician and later the author of The Vampyre) took up a ghost-story contest. Shelley’s chronicle of this evening (written an auspicious thirteen years after that summer) turned this experience into a myth that has found a life of its own, one that has been dramatized and represented throughout fiction and film. This lecture will examine the events in the Villa Diodati that led to the creation of Frankenstein and the way those events have been depicted in fiction and films ranging from James Whale’s Bride of Frankenstein, Ken Russell’s phantasmagoric hallucinatory Gothic, Roger Corman’s adaption of Brian Aldiss’s Frankenstein Unbound, and Haifaa al-Mansour’s biopic Mary Shelley, amongst others. It will examine the way in which Mary Shelley herself has become a figure of adaptation and how these usages of Shelley seek to shape our understanding of her monstrous creation and its deeper and darker meanings.
Presented by Jude Wright
Jude Wright is an Assistant Professor of English (and one of two resident horror nerds) at Peru State College in Peru, Nebraska where he teaches courses in writing, British literature, Science Fiction, and comic books. His research focuses on the relationship between realism and the fantastic in nineteenth-century British literature, the Gothic, and adaptation theory. His publications include work on stage and film adaptations of Frankenstein, Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, J. Sheridan LeFanu, Walter Pater, and most recently Thomas Hardy. His current project is a long-form extension of his work on Frankenstein adaptations (from which this lecture is drawn). He currently serves as the Division Head from the Gothic and Horror Literature Division of the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts. Dr. Wright received his BA in English and Philosophy/Religion from Flagler College, and his MA in English from Boston College. He received his Ph.D. in English from the University of South Florida. He is on the Twitter Machine and tweets from @tothepanopticon.