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ASU announces bicentennial celebration of Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein'

March 05, 2013

No work of literature has done more to shape the way humans imagine science and its moral consequences than "Frankenstein;" or "The Modern Prometheus" – Mary Shelley’s enduring tale of creation and responsibility. In writing "Frankenstein," Shelley popularized themes that continue to resonate with contemporary audiences and influence the way the world confronts emerging technologies.

January 2018 will mark the bicentennial of the publication of "Frankenstein" and Arizona State University will be at the forefront of the celebration. ASU’s Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes (CSPO) and its Center for Science and the Imagination (CSI) will co-lead the celebration.

“The Frankenstein Bicentennial Project will be a constructive, intellectual and public endeavor meant to explore the challenges of creativity and responsibility,” says David Guston, Frankenstein Bicentennial project co-leader and CSPO co-director. “It will not only reach across ASU – with contributions from arts and sciences, engineering and beyond – but also across the world by organizing with other celebrants.”

Frankenstein Bicentennial is working with the Science Museum of Minnesota to determine the feasibility of a major traveling exhibition about the famous novel and the real-life pursuit of artificial life. The ASU Art Museum and ASU Libraries will contribute as well.

“Mary Shelley wrote 'Frankenstein' on a dare, and we imagine dares in which writers across the planet – 18-year-olds like Mary Shelley was, as well as established authors – will compete to create stories or novels of the future Prometheus,” said Ed Finn, co-lead and director for CSI. “We imagine leading discussions about science, art, horror and imagination in salons and laboratories modeled after those of 1818, 2018, and 2118.”

Many other groups at ASU institutions will join in celebrating the 200th anniversary of Shelley’s masterpiece, including the Institute for Humanities Research, the Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics, the Center for Biology and Society, the Program on Jewish Studies, all research units in ASU's College of LIberal Arts and Sciences, and the School of Arts, Media and Engineering, and others. In addition to the arts and humanities, the project will reach out to the sciences and engineering as well.

The general public will also have the opportunity to celebrate. A global film festival offering the best, and the worst, of the 250-plus films based on the novel, theater events from Aeschylus’ "Prometheus Bound" to the musical version of "Young Frankenstein," and a costume gala are among the public events in the planning stages.

“The ultimate goal of the project is to draw global attention to ASU’s brand of intellectual fusion and to the intellectual heart of the endeavor – the challenging relationship between creativity and responsibility,” said Guston.

For more information on ASU’s Frankenstein Bicentennial celebration, visit

The Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes is a research unit in ASU's College of LIberal Arts and Sciences.