This year marks the bicentenary of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, a novel that, while published 200 years ago, continues to enthral readers and critics in the present day. “Frankenreads” consist of a series of events, organized by the Inter-university Centre for Romantic Studies (CISR) of the University of Bologna, in collaboration with the Departments of ARTS (DAR), the Department of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures (LILEC) of the University of Bologna, Cineteca of Bologna, Palazzo Poggi Museum, Istituzione Biblioteche di Bologna (Archiginnasio and Salaborsa), Arena del Sole (ERT), City Red Bus , Bologna City Council, with the aim of paying homage to a great writer and of marking the anniversary of her masterpiece.
Frankenreads started on 30th October 2018 at the Department of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures (LILEC) of the University of Bologna, with the opening of a literary exhibition about Mary Shelley and her Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus, immediately followed by a reading of the novel, led by teachers and students, and by the prizegiving of the creative writing contest.
The contest addressed to secondary school students, was organized in collaboration with Sonia Selleri (Liceo Fermi, Bologna). The Frankenstein contest attracted the interest of several secondary schools of Bologna and many students contributed with enthusiasm and creativity. The results were very really extraordinary, and the following four students were selected as winners:
- 1. Elena Di Giorgio – “Io sono il passato“ (Liceo Classico M. Minghetti, II B)
- 2. Axel M. Patron – “Frankenstein: un finale alternativo” (Liceo Laura Bassi, II C)
- 3. (ex aequo) Ludovica Fusaroli – “Partners in crime“ (Liceo Classico M. Minghetti, II D)
- 3. (ex aequo) Alice Scazzieri – “Taís gynaixí“ (Liceo Scientifico Statale E. Fermi, III F)
(Click on the titles to read the texts that won the Frankenreads contest)
The department joined forces with other organisations in Bologna to contribute to a variety of events around the city, such as the Cineteca of Bologna. After morning events, for example, Professors Crisafulli and Baiesi introduced screenings of two Frankenstein films at the Bologna Cinema Lumière.
The Frankenstein film festival will continue all November long, so all gothic lovers are strongly recommended to check the programming of Cineteca di Bologna.
On the 31st October, the department led a roundtable discussion entitled ‘Mostri, Scienza, Contesti e Media’ [Monsters, Science, Contexts and Media], held at the Salaborsa library in Piazza Maggiore on 31st of October.
This conference contained a beautifully curated exhibition of books and items relating to Frankenstein, also situating the novel within a historical context by displaying Shelley’s family tree and her other works of fiction alongside movie adaptions and spin-off fiction inspired by the novel.
At 17 o’clock, Professor Crisafulli also introduced to the public a sculpture created by artist Guy Lydster and inspired by Frankenstein called “Big Wide Eye“, which is currently on display in via IV novembre.
Then, two events were organized in order to liven up the pre-halloween night:
Professor Farese introduced the screening of “Bride of Frankenstein”at the Bologna Cinema Lumière.
Meanwhile, a guided tour to the Anatomical Theatre of Archiginnasio took place. Indeed, Mary Shelley’s account of a scientist who brings a man to life was inspired by trends in biology in her era, particularly Galvanism, which is today a term used to signify the contraction of a muscle when stimulated by an electric current. Galvanism is named after Luigi Galvani, a scientist who ran electricity through dissected animals (particularly frogs) in the late 18th century, and has since been recognised as the pioneer of bioelectromagnetics. Galvani graduated with a double degree in Philosophy and Medicine at the University of Bologna in 1759, creating a special tie between the city and Shelley’s internationally celebrated novel.
Halloween night started at 19 o’clock with a city sightseeing on a Red City Bus. People had the opportunity to visit suggestive places connected with the gothic novel (Piazza Galvani, Archiginnasio, Certosa and Museo di Palazzo Poggi) and to listen to the reading of some salient passages.
The guided tour was introduced by Professors Golinelli and Musiani.
“Frank is back” took place at Museo di Palazzo Poggi with the actors of the docu-fiction “Frankenstein Senior”. Other screenings will be shown during november.
Check the website https://sma.unibo.it/it/agenda/frankenstein-senior-le-fondamenta-scientifiche-di-un-mito-nelle-collezioni-di-palazzo-poggi for further information.
A flashmob of dancers performed also some scenes from Frankenstein in the streets of Bologna.
People were welcomed with roasted chestnuts and mulled wine at 22 o’clock and then, at midnight, the literary marathon started. It was organized by the Inter-university Centre for Romantic Studies (CISR) of the University of Bologna, in collaboration with the Departments of ARTS (DAR) and ERT.
The Halloween spirit pervaded the Arena, which was full of actors and people wearing fantastic costumes.
A video of that amazing and very long night was also edited by ERT (Arena del Sole) company and uploaded on Facebook:
We took Frankenstein into the public arena by reading extracts from the novel on a number of occasions and in several locations throughout the city during these two days: in the open courtyard of L’Associazione Orlando; in Piazza Santo Stefano; in Bologna’s Salaborsa, Archiginnasio, Museo Palazzo Poggi, Certosa, Piazza Galvani, Arena del Sole, Cineteca Lumiere and at the reception of the Frankenstein bicentenary at the Art Hotel Orologio, where members of Bologna’s academic community were gathered with artists, patrons of the arts, friends of Bologna University, and Shelley enthusiasts.
Here’s to another 200 years of Frankenstein!