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Celebrating 200 years

No work of literature has done more to shape the way people imagine science and its moral consequences than Frankenstein; or The Modern Prometheus, Mary Shelley’s enduring tale of creation and responsibility. The novel’s themes and tropes—such as the complex dynamic between creator and creation—continue to resonate with contemporary audiences. Frankenstein continues to influence the way we confront emerging technologies, conceptualize the process of scientific research, imagine the motivations and ethical struggles of scientists, and weigh the benefits of innovation with its unforeseen pitfalls.
Arizona State University will serve as the network hub for a global celebration of the bicentennial of the writing and publication of Frankenstein, 2016-2018. The celebration will encompass a wide variety of public programs, physical and digital exhibits, research projects, scientific demonstrations, competitions, festivals, art projects, formal and informal learning opportunities, and publications exploring the novel’s colossal scientific, technological, artistic, cultural and social impacts.
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Activities

      • An Advancing Informal STEM Learning grant from the National Science Foundation connected to the project will explore digital narrative, transmedia engagement, and science-in-society through a digital museum, a tabletop activities kit, and a set of hands-on maker challenges and competitions.
      • In April 2014, we hosted a workshop uniting participants from universities, museums, libraries, K-12 schools, and science publications to build an interdisciplinary network and brainstorm exciting new science, technology, and society projects. We used the Frankenstein Bicentennial Celebration as a springboard for generating fresh collaborations and engaging the public.
      • In April 2014, we delivered a set of presentations on Frankenstein at Columbia University’s Seminar on Cinema and Interdisciplinary 
      • Interpretation. Presentations addressed Frankenstein through the lenses of embodiment, digital humanities, cities, and cyborgs.

In January 2015, we delivered a set of presentations on

Frankenstein

       as part of “

It’s Alive! Frankenstein on Film

    ,” a special weekend-long event hosted by SIFF Cinema in Seattle.  Presentations explored topics including responsible innovation, representations of the creature’s body, and synthetic biology.

  • In May 2015, we hosted a workshop bringing together ethicists, historians, journalists, archivists, literature scholars, education researchers, and digital publishing experts to begin planning for a new critical edition of Frankenstein for young scientists and engineers, providing insight into the scientific history and ethical implications of the narrative and connecting it to issues of emerging science and technology today.
  • A new collection of essays on Frankenstein, scientific creativity, and ethical responsibility is forthcoming in 2016 as part of the The Rightful Place of Science, a book series published by ASU’s Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes that explores the complex interactions among science, politics, and the human condition.
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Publications

Publications

Frankenstein: A New Edition for Scientists and Engineers

Editors: Ed Finn, Assistant Professor, School of Arts, Media and Engineering and Department of English; Founding Director, Center for Science and the Imagination, Arizona State University

David Guston, Professor, Department of Political Science; Founding Director, School for the Future of Innovation in Society; Co-Director, Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes, Arizona State University

Jason Robert, Dean’s Distinguished Professor, School of Life Sciences; Director, Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics, Arizona State University

Published by MIT Press, Expected Spring 2017

No work of literature has done more to shape the way humans imagine science and its moral consequences than Frankenstein, Mary Shelley’s enduring tale of creation and responsibility. Shelley produced in both the creature and its creator tropes that not only continue to resonate with contemporary audiences but also actually influence the way we confront emerging technologies, conceptualize the process of scientific research, imagine the motivations and ethical struggles of scientists, and weigh the benefits of scientific research against its anticipated and unforeseen pitfalls.

In anticipation of the 2018 bicentennial of its original publication, the editors will create a new critical edition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Annotated by topical experts and supplemented with accessible essays, this critical edition targets students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) who are receiving education in the ethical and social aspects of their fields. The book will be designed with the expectation that it will be a core text in promoting and enhancing interdisciplinary dialogue on the nature, roles, and responsibilities of scientists and engineers in society.

The Rightful Place of Science: Frankenstein

Edited by Megan K. Halpern, Jathan Sadowski, and Joey Eschrich

Published by ASU’sConsortium for Science, Policy, and Outcomes, Expected 2017

The dominant interpretation of Frankenstein, especially in beloved popular culture adaptations, is that of a mad scientist playing god and inventing things he shouldn’t. In this special volume of The Rightful Place on Science series, researchers present an alternate interpretation: Frankenstein isn’t a parable about Dr. Frankenstein’s hubris, but about his failure to accept responsibility for the consequences of his creative achievement. This volume frames Mary Shelley’s landmark novel as a tale about the importance of caring for the products of our creativity – whether that creativity is scientific, technological, philosophical, or artistic.

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Storytelling and innovation

The Frankenstein Bicentennial Project will infuse science and engineering endeavors with considerations of ethics. It will use the power of storytelling and art to shape processes of innovation and empower public appraisal of techno-scientific research and creation. It will offer humanists and artists a new set of concerns around research, public policy, and the ramifications of exploration and invention. And it will inspire new scientific and technological advances inspired by Shelley’s exploration of our inspiring and terrifying ability to bring new life into the world. Frankenstein represents a landmark fusion of science, ethics, and literary expression.

The bicentennial provides an opportunity for vivid reflection on how science is culturally framed and understood by the public, as well as our ethical limitations and responsibility for nurturing the products of our creativity. It is also a moment to unveil new scientific and technological marvels, especially in the areas of synthetic biology and artificial intelligence. Engaging with Frankenstein allows scholars and educators, artists and writers, and the public at large to consider the history of scientific invention, reflect on contemporary research, and question the future of our technological society. Acting as a network hub for the bicentennial celebration, ASU will encourage and coordinate collaboration across institutions and among diverse groups worldwide.

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Frankenstein Untranslated

Musician David Rothenberg played a translation game with a passage of Frankenstein at a recent event at Stanford University.

And what can this teach us?  That all the world’s a book, and stories are like monsters that take on a life of their own as we tell and retell them?

Listen to a mashup:

Read the full post

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Researchers receive NSF grant to lead Frankenstein Bicentennial Workshop

Three Arizona State University researchers have received a grant from the National Science Foundation to lead a workshop to build a global, multi-institutional network of collaborators to celebrate the bicentennial of the publication of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus.”

The Frankenstein Bicentennial Project will span from 2016 through 2018, marking the anniversary of the legendary “dare” among Shelley, her husband Percy, Lord Byron and John William Polidori on the shores of Lake Geneva that ignited Shelley’s imagination, as well as the novel’s eventual publication in 1818.

To learn more about the Frankenstein Bicentennial Project and sign up for updates, visit http://frankenstein.asu.edu.

The project, officially titled “Informal Learning And Scholarship In Science And Society: A Multi-Disciplinary Workshop On Scientific Creativity And Societal Responsibility,” will bring together dozens of scholars, researchers, science educators, museum curators, ethicists, archivists, authors, performers, artists and technologists at Arizona State University this April to lay the groundwork for the global celebration of the bicentennial, with ASU acting as a network hub and project headquarters.

“No work of literature has done more to shape the way humans imagine science and its moral consequences than ‘Frankenstein,’” says Ed Finn. “In this single act of imagination, Mary Shelley produced both the creature and its creator tropes that continue to resonate in our contemporary moment and actually influence the way we confront emerging technologies, understand the motivations and ethical struggles of scientists, and weigh the benefits of research with its unforeseen pitfalls.”

The Frankenstein Bicentennial Project will encompass a vast array of activities at institutions across the United States and around the world, including universities, libraries, laboratories, museums, science centers, theaters and K-12 schools.

Projects in the planning stages include writing and artistic competitions to commemorate the fateful dare; a global film festival offering the best – and the worst – of the 250-plus films based on the novel; a Halloween costume gala; museum exhibits blending the scientific, artistic and historical; public scientific demonstrations; intellectual salons; theatrical performances; online and in-person courses; synthetic biology projects; new books and special issues of magazines and journals.

The workshop will be split into eight working groups, representing the breadth and massive public reach of the celebration:

• Exhibits and Installations: Frankenstein and the Creation of Life

• Frankenstein: A Critical Edition for Scientists and Engineers

• “It’s Alive!”: Frankenstein on Film

• Monsters on Stage: Frankenstein in Theater and Performance

• “MOOCenstein”: Frankenstein Goes Global

• Engineering Life: Distributed Demonstrations

• Reinventing the Dare: Frankenstein, Science Fiction and the Culture of Science

• Bringing Nonfiction to Life: Frankenstein and Science Writing

“The project seeks to take advantage of the incredible cultural resonance of Frankenstein to facilitate conversations among scholars of vastly different disciplinary stripes, as well as among all those scholars, artists, performers, and the broader public,” says David Guston, co-principal investigator. “Such conversations are critical for the broad, democratic governance of today’s science and technology.”

“The project seeks to take advantage of the incredible cultural resonance of Frankenstein to facilitate conversations among scholars of vastly different disciplinary stripes, as well as among all those scholars, artists, performers, and the broader public,” says David Guston, co-principal investigator. “Such conversations are critical for the broad, democratic governance of today’s science and technology.”

Many other groups at Arizona State University will join in celebrating the bicentennial, including the ASU Art Museum; ASU Libraries; Institute for Humanities Research; Center for Film, Media and Popular Culture; Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics; Center for Biology and Society; Program on Jewish Studies; all research units in ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; and the School of Arts, Media and Engineering, among others. External partners include the Science Museum of Minnesota and the Bakken Museum.

Ed Finn, principal investigator, is the director of the Center for Science and the Imagination and an assistant professor in the School of Arts, Media and Engineering and the Department of English.

Guston, co-principal investigator, is the co-director of the Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes, the director of the Center for Nanotechnology in Society, and a professor in the School of Politics and Global Studies.

Stephen Helms Tillery, co-principal investigator, is an associate professor in the School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering and a Fellow of Ethics and Bioengineering at the Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1354287

For more information on ASU’s Frankenstein Bicentennial Celebration, visit http://frankenstein.asu.edu.

Originally posted at ASU news