Mary Shelley's Dundee: Re-animating a City

Frankenstein author Mary Shelley’s formative experiences in Dundee will be revisited in a series of events starting from tomorrow,

The University of Dundee will host ‘Mary Shelley’s Dundee: Re-animating a City’ as part of the Being Human 2015, the UK’s national festival of the humanities. The festival will see events take place at 41 universities and other organisations across the UK throughout November.

The Dundee programme includes the production and exhibition of an original comic, theatrical adaptations and immersive film screenings that will explore Shelley’s teenage years in Dundee in the 1810s. They will also consider the ongoing impact of her best-known novel, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus (1818) on artists, writers and film-makers.

The series begins with a student-led reading group of The Last Man and a special film screening of The Bride of Frankenstein at the University on Tuesday, 10th November. It culminates with a comics workshop and exhibition at The McManus: Dundee’s Art Gallery & Museum later in the month.

Discussion will not be limited to Shelley’s influence in the arts, and a special exploration of Frankenstein’s enduring contribution to the ethics of science will also take place at Dundee Science Centre.

Dr Daniel Cook, Lecturer in English at the University and organiser of the Dundee programme, said, “Frankenstein is one of the most important works in the English language, one that continues to stimulate debate about both literature and the philosophical questions the book raises.

“We still hear about ‘Frankenfood’ and ‘Frankenscience’, showing how the ethics of science and the public perception of scientific progress in fields such as food production and human reproduction are influenced by this remarkable book. This is a way of highlighting the role that the humanities can play in understanding and addressing the issues that the fast pace of technological change raise, such as what it actually means to be a human.

“We look forward to bringing new attention to the life and works of Mary Shelley, the mother of modern science fiction, at a time of substantial civic and creative regeneration taking place in a city that she says stirred ‘the airy flights’ of her young imagination’.”

The University’s Dr Chris Murray, Director of the Scottish Centre for Comics Studies, has worked with students to produce a new comic entitled Frankenstein Begins chronicling Mary Shelley’s time in Dundee and how it inspired her. He has also written a play telling the same story, which will be performed at the Little Theatre on Friday, 20th November.

The full list of events is:

  • Mary Shelley's 'The Last Man': a Reading Group (Tuesday, 10th November)
  • The Bride of Frankenstein - Film Screening (Tuesday, 10th November)
  • Frankenstein Returns!  The Ethics of Science (Wednesday, 11th November)
  • Ghost Writing with Mary Shelley and Friends (Friday, 13th November)
  • Dead Dundee: A Walking Tour (Sunday 15th and Sunday 22nd November)
  • Mary Shelley's Dundee: The Gothic City (Wednesday, 18th November)
  • Mary Shelley's Dundee hits the stage! (Friday, 20th November)
  • Frankenstein Begins: A Comics Workshop and Exhibition (Saturday, 21st November)

All of the events are free, but some require ticketing due to strictly limited capacity.

Dr Murray added, “The novel Frankenstein has had a very long legacy, and has inspired many adaptations in other mediums, from theatre, to film and comics. The comic we are creating as part of the Being Human Festival explores Dundee’s impact on Mary Shelley.

“The timing of this is particularly meaningful, as it just over two hundred years since Mary Shelley left the city, and this year the University launched its new Science Fiction Masters, which will complement the innovative Masters in Comics Studies.”

‘Mary Shelley’s Dundee’ will champion the excellence of humanities research being undertaken in Scotland and help to demonstrate the vitality and relevance of this today. Forty-one grants have been awarded to universities and cultural organisations across the UK to participate in the 11 days of Being Human. This funding will help the University bring together researchers and the local community to engage with the Humanities. ‘

Now in its second year, Being Human is supported by the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC), and the British Academy (BA) with support from the Wellcome Trust. The festival will inform, extend and ignite contemporary thinking and imagination around the humanities.

During the inaugural festival in 2014, more than 160 free events shared the best and most challenging thinking in the humanities with audiences across the country. Extending beyond face-to-face interactions in the UK, the festival crossed borders on the web, reaching more than 2.2 million across Twitter and website visitors from around the globe.

More information about the Dundee events is available at

For media enquiries contact:
Grant Hill
Press Officer
University of Dundee
Nethergate, Dundee, DD1 4HN
Tel: +44 (0)1382 384768
Mobile: 07854 953277