Cardiff FrankenFest: Celebrating 200 Years of Frankenstein

When I placed my head on my pillow, I did not sleep, nor could I be said to think. My imagination, unbidden, possessed and guided me, gifting the successive images that arose in my mind with a vividness far beyond the usual bounds of reverie. I saw—with shut eyes, but acute mental vision, —I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy, half vital motion. Frightful must it be; for supremely frightful would be the effect of any human endeavour to mock the stupendous mechanism of the Creator of the world.—Mary Shelley, Introduction to Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus (1831 edn)

FrankenFestJoin CRECS in celebrating the bicentenary of the publication of Frankenstein, as we host a festival of events later this month that explore various aspects of Mary Shelley’s gothic classic. A collaboration between the School of English, Communication & Philosophy and Special Collections at Cardiff University, and directed by Prof. Anthony Mandal, Cardiff Frankenfest is part of the global Frankenreads initiative—a celebration of the novel’s anniversary by over 400 partners around the world, taking place in the lead-up to Halloween 2018.

We are delighted to be hosting four convivial, interactive events later this month, to which fans of the novel are warmly invited. Unless otherwise noted, events take place in the Special Collections of Cardiff University’s Arts and Social Studies Library.

  • A Stormy Night of Ghost-Telling: Fantasmagoriana and the Villa Diodati (22 Oct 2018, 5.30–7pm): In this seminar, Dr Maximiliaan van Woudenberg (Cambridge) will explore Fantasmagoriana, the collection of ghost stories in French read by Byron and the Shelleys during a summer stay in Switzerland. It was these tales that inspired the infamous ghost-storytelling completion, resulting in Mary’s creation of Frankenstein. The seminar will consist of a talk, followed by a hands-on discussion based on close readings of two short stories from Fantasmagoriana. This event is co-organised by CRECS and the Centre for Editorial and Intertextual Research.
  • ‘Of What A Strange Nature Is Knowledge’: Interdisciplinary Approaches To Frankenstein (24 Oct 2018, 5–7pm): This event explores the novel through various modes of analysis, led by Cardiff University researchers. Dr James Castell will discuss the ways in which Frankenstein anticipates key concerns of the environmental humanities; Barbara Hughes-Moore considers the relationship between legal culpability and the Creature’s status as a non-human; Prof. Keir Waddington examines how the laboratory space features in the novel. Each speaker will talk for about 15 minutes, with plenty of time for discussion.
  • Mary Shelley (29 Oct 2018, 6–9pm): A screening of Haifaa al-Mansoor’s 2017 biopic, starring Elle Fanning. The movie will be followed by a discussion of its representation of Mary’s life and love by Dr Anna Mercer (Cardiff/Keats House), whose work draws on her extensive research into the Shelley family manuscripts. This event is co-hosted by Cardiff BookTalk, and takes place in Cardiff University’s Optometry Building. 
  • ‘My Hideous Progeny’: Your Favourite Readings of Frankenstein and the FrankenQuiz (31 Oct 2018, 4–7pm): Start your Halloween celebrations by coming along to read and discuss your favourite passages from Frankenstein, at an event hosted by Rob Lloyd. The evening, and Festival, will conclude with a FrankenQuiz, in which you can prove your knowledge of all things Frankenstein—there will be suitably monstrous prizes for the winning team. For more information about readings, please contact Robert at LloydRS2@cardiff.ac.uk.

All events are free and everyone is welcome to attend. Refreshments will be available. However, please register using the Eventbrite link below so that we can plan accordingly: cardiff-frankenfest.eventbrite.co.uk.

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Gothic Revival: CRECS Tours Strawberry Hill House, 16 May 2017

Join the Cardiff Romanticism and Eighteenth-Century Seminar (CRECS) on 16 May 2017 for an exciting excursion, as we visit the Gothic Strawberry Hill House in Twickenham, a modern architectural marvel. With its arches and turrets, its elaborate windows and gables, and its bone-white exterior, Strawberry Hill is a bizarre cross between a Gothic castle and a Disney one. Until 1797, it was also the home of the Gothic novelist Horace Walpole.

Constructed in stages between 1749 and 1776, Strawberry Hill has the distinction of being the first house built in the medieval style without using any old materials—a self-conscious work of Gothic fakery. This makes it the perfect match for Walpole, its original architect. Victorian scholar Thomas Macaulay famously called Walpole ‘the most eccentric, the most artificial, the most fastidious, the most capricious, of men’. Walpole was inspired to make multiple, wild renovations to Strawberry Hill during his lifetime, and the house inspired his writing in return: most famously, The Castle of Otranto (1764). Continue reading

Visiting Speaker, 8 Nov 2016: Emily Rohrbach on voice and dispossession in ‘gothic’ literatures

Emily Rohrbach (University of Manchester) will be presenting her paper, ‘Voice and Dispossession: A Comparative Poetics’, at 5.30pm on Tuesday, 8 November 2016. The talk will take place in the Cardiff University’s John Percival Building, Room 2.03, and will be followed by a wine reception.

Abstract
2016-02-rohrbachThis talk draws from her current work on voice and dispossession in ‘Gothic’ literatures from Britain and Europe to the Americas, which examines not only to plot elements and themes of dispossessed voices but also aspects of narrative voice that dramatise self-reflexively its own otherness. That otherness concerns less the transcendence or divine quality of poetic inspiration than the imagination of textual circulation and influence in the Romantic period and the nineteenth century on both sides of the Atlantic. Continue reading

First event for 2016/17—Pain and Prejudice: Women and Science in the Romantic Era, 17 Oct 2016

Over the past decade, scholars have become increasingly interested in interfaces between scientific and literary discourses during the Romantic period. How did ideas about cutting-edge science inflect and shape literary productions? How did novels, poetry and life writing mould scientific discourse? And, in an era when women were officially excluded from public institutions of science such as the Royal Society, how did they access, develop and perpetuate scientific knowledge through literary activity?

On the evening of the 17th of October, three members of the CRECS team will explore intersections between scientific discourse, literary innovation and gender in the writings of two of the period’s most important novelists. Continue reading

Film screening, 30 June 2016: Frankenstein (1931)

When I placed my head on my pillow, I did not sleep, nor could I be said to think. My imagination, unbidden, possessed and guided me, gifting the successive images that arose in my mind with a vividness far beyond the usual bounds of reverie. I saw—with shut eyes, but acute mental vision,—I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life and stir with an uneasy, half vital motion.

Mary Shelley’s recollection of her moment of inspiration for Frankenstein is every bit as gothic as the immortal scene of unnatural creation found within the pages of the novel itself.  When it appeared in 1818, Shelley’s debut novel was a sensation, leading reviewers both to celebrate it as a work of ‘originality’ and ‘extreme interest’ and to denounce it as ‘an uncouth story, in the taste of the German novelists, trenching in some degree on delicacy, setting probability at defiance’. The germ of this gothic tale is to be found in an evening of reading French ghost stories by the Byron–Shelley circle, who were sojourning during the summer of 1816 in the Villa Diodati near Generva. So entertained were the companions that they agreed to a ghost-story competition of their own. While Lord Byron, Percy Shelley and John Polidori conjured their own quite chilling spectres, they were eclipsed by the dark and brooding tale written by Percy’s 18-year-old mistress, Mary Godwin, which has gained a monumental, unnatural life of its own over the past two centuries.

Frankenstein1To celebrate the 200th anniversary of the novel’s composition this June, we are delighted to offer another innovation of the BookTalk formula: a screening of Universal Pictures’ iconic 1931 film adaptation of the novel, directed by James Whale.  Unlike the articulate and philosophical Creature of the novel, Boris Karloff’s monster is a mute, shambling being that is by turns destructive and sympathetic. More than any other adaptation—perhaps even more than the novel—it is this version of the story that dominates our popular consciousness today, inspiring numerous later adaptations and countless Halloween costumes.

As well as the screening, this evening’s BookTalk will feature four speakers who explore a number of different aspects of the Frankenstein myth:

  • Dr Anthony Mandal (Cardiff University), will introduce the screening by briefly talking about the novel’s composition and the film’s history.
  • Following the screening (and a short break), Dr Maximilaan van Woudenberg (Sheridan College, Canada) will discuss the curious history of the ghost stories that inspired Mary Shelley to write Frankenstein.
  • Dr Lisa Stead (University of Exeter) will turn to the film, and how it fits in with genre, audiences and the Hollywood studio system of the 1930s.
  • Finally, Megen de Bruin-Molé (Cardiff University) will explore the legacy of Frankenstein, which continues to haunt popular literature and media to the present day.

The main event (6.30pm) will be preceded by a reception with tea, coffee and biscuits at 6pm in Cardiff University’s School of Optometry and Vision Sciences, Maindy Road, Cardiff CF24 4HQ. This event is jointly hosted with the Cardiff BookTalk.

All welcome! Book your tickets via Eventbrite by clicking here.

First Annual CRECS Conference: Programme

All events take place on 17 May 2016, in the Special Collections and Archives (SCOLAR) at Cardiff University unless otherwise noted. 

09.00–09.25 Registration and Coffee
09.25–9.30 Welcome
09.30–10.20 Student Panel 1
(Four 10–minute papers with 10 minutes of discussion)
Kathryn Barlow, Ella Morrish, Anwen Pembery, Thomas Tyrrell
10.30–11.20 Student Panel 2
(Four 10–minute papers with 10 minutes of discussion)
India Cole, Natalie Cox, Poppy Jennings, Emma Tranter
11.20–11.40 Coffee Break
11.40–12.30 Student Panel 3
(Four 10–minute papers with 10 minutes of discussion)
Stephanie Clayton, Anna Field, Abby Johns, Kirsty McHugh
12.35–13.15 Student Panel 4
(Three 10–minute papers with 10 minutes of discussion)
Jannat Ahmad, Angharad Jenkins Wendon, Anna Sharrard
13.15–14.00 Lunch
(Refectory, John Percival Building)
14.00–15.00 Workshop 1 
Dr Mary-Ann Constantine and Dr Liz Edwards (Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies) on 18th-century and Romantic Welsh tours
15.15–16.15 Workshop 2
Dr Jennie Batchelor, Dr Koenraad Claes, and Dr Jenny DiPlacidi (University of Kent) on The Lady’s Magazine
16.30–17.30 Workshop 3
Professor Tim Stretton (St Mary’s University, Nova Scotia) on ‘Married Women and the Law: “The True Case of the Lady Lawley” (1731)’
17.30–18.30 Closing Remarks followed by a Wine Reception
(John Percival Building, Room 2.47)

First Annual CRECS Conference, 17 May 2016

The Cardiff Romanticism and Eighteenth Century Seminar (CRECS) turns three semesters old on Tuesday, 17 May 2016 … 

And, to celebrate, it’s time for the first CRECS Annual Conference!

CRECS exists to support and stimulate interest and discussion in Romantic and 18th-century studies at Cardiff University. With that in mind, we will be holding a unique daylong event in Cardiff’s Special Collections and Archives to showcase the interesting work that takes place at Cardiff and to consider a few different approaches to the period.

The day (running from 09.30 to 18.00) will be split into two parts. In the morning, we’ll be holding a mini-conference, where undergraduates and postgraduates alike can present their work and ideas in punchy 10-minute papers with plenty of opportunities for discussion.

In the afternoon, we’ll be running a series of no fewer than three exciting workshops with internationally recognized experts in the field:

  1. Dr Mary-Ann Constantine and Dr Liz Edwards (Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies) on eighteenth-century and Romantic Welsh tours;
  2. Dr Jennie Batchelor, Dr Koenraad Claes and Dr Jenny DiPlacidi (University of Kent) on The Lady’s Magazine;
  3. Professor Tim Stretton (St Mary’s University, Nova Scotia) on a topic to be confirmed.

The day is open to those who wish to attend and participate in discussion, as well as to those who want to deliver papers. A buffet lunch, coffee and a wine reception will be provided, so—to join us for this free event—please sign up using Eventbrite by Monday, 2 May 2016: http://crecs-conference-2016.eventbrite.co.uk

The day will be fun and informal, while also giving students the opportunity to try the ‘conference experience’ for the first time. We’d particularly like to encourage undergraduate students, as well as postgraduates and recent graduates, to propose papers on anything related to the Romantic period and 18th century. This is a fantastic opportunity to present and get feedback on your work in a friendly and familiar setting, while meeting with various leading scholars doing exciting and innovative research. You might want to speak about an argument from one of your essays or try out an idea for a dissertation. Whatever, you’ll be developing important skills and experience for the future: as well as giving you a taste of what postgraduate research culture at Cardiff is like, presenting at the CRECS conference will look very impressive on your CV!

If you’re a student based in Cardiff University, and would like to deliver a 10-minute presentation, please send a 100-word proposal to Dr Jamie Castell (castellj@cardiff.ac.uk) by Friday, 15 April 2016.