Frankenstein and his monster – two centuries later

A tale born out of a ghost-story competition between Mary Shelley, her husband Percy Bysshe Shelley and English poet Lord Byron, Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus has exceeded 300 editions and inspired more than 90 films – in addition to hundreds of academic texts and comic books – over the past two centuries.

The book was first published anonymously in January 1818 and continues to be cited today in conversations concerning scientific progress, ethics and human vanity. The ‘Frankenstein effect’ evokes the spectre of mad science, bad science or science gone wrong; Frankenstein still haunts us today and the term has come to be associated with questionable advances in genetics and artificial intelligence, with Dr. Frankenstein’s monster often cited as an example of consequence when humankind, by way of science, goes too far.

Two new editions of the book were recently published,  Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus: Annotated for Scientists, Engineers, and Creators of All Kinds and The New Annotated Frankenstein, both of which aim to bring Shelley’s iconic novel into modern context, referencing robotics, genetic engineering and the novel’s vast influence.

Today, we celebrate the 200th anniversary of Frankenstein with insights from faculty across disciplines.