CFP: Intermedial Frankensteins

Conference
University Bordeaux Montaigne
October 18 - 19, 2018
Stichtag: 31.01.2018

In the 200 years following its first edition, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus (1818) has been abundantly rewritten, appropriated, transposed and adapted, in other novels, in films, in comics or in plays. Multiple variations on its two central figures, the mad scientist and the creature, appear in posters, cartoons, music videos, video games and other popular cultural objects. In the collective imagination, the popularity of the Frankenstein myth owes as much to the original text as to the way it has been relayed and reshaped in a variety of media. The continued vitality of the myth is attested by the regular release of new cinematic versions, but also by its inclusion into many contemporary television shows (Penny Dreadful, The Frankenstein Chronicles, American Horror Story, to name a few) which revive and update the motifs of the familiar narrative.

This calls attention to the tension between repetition and innovation at work in these incarnations across various media. What are the recurring motifs, the invariants of the Frankenstein myth? Conversely, how and why is it transformed by novelists, filmmakers, artists, etc.? How is the narrative adapted to a new audience (children and teenagers), as in Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie (2012)? How is it renewed by a re-focalized postmodern reading, as in Peter Ackroyd’s The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein (2011)? How should we interpret the fact that some of these fictions offer alternative versions of the novel (through adaptations, rewriting, palimpsests, quotations, etc.) while other aim at expanding its story (I, Frankenstein, Stuart Beattie, 2014), and others yet turn the novel into a cultural object within the fictional universe (the prologues to Whale’s films, Brian Aldiss’s Frankenstein Unbound, 1973).

This conference will seek to explore Frankenstein’s intermedial destiny through a focus on medium specificity, in the hope of delineating the meaning-making process generated by intermedial circulation, through literature, drama, video games, comics and popular culture more generally. The organizers would like to invite proposals dealing with the reception of these cultural products but also on the critical and theoretical discourses they generate, in the hope of sketching an overview of the Frankenstein myth today, and the process by which it is constantly constructed. This does not preclude going back to the source-text, since intermediality informs Mary Shelley’s own text. The second edition (1831) was published after several theater productions and it included illustrations, which already raised the issue of the representation of the narrative. The very text of Frankenstein, and its use of the sublime, was already in dialogue with the visual arts, notably through its description of the sea of ice.

The conference will be held in French and English.

Short proposals (about 200 words) should be sent to the organizers, along with a brief autobiographical note, before January 31, 2018:

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