Books that Changed Humanity: Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus

Books that Changed Humanity is an initiative of the Humanities Research Centre, based at the Australian National University. The HRC invites experts to introduce and lead discussion of major texts from a variety of cultural traditions, all of which have informed the way we understand ourselves both individually and collectively as human beings.

Join us as Professor Will Christie (Humanities Research Centre, Australian National University) introduces and discusses Mary Shelley's groundbreaking novel Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus.

200 years ago, in Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, the twenty-year-old Mary Shelley created one of the most formative myths of the modern world, making it arguably the most influential book ever written. Critical interpretations and popular adaptations of Frankenstein abound and show no sign of flagging to this day. Starting with the origins of the book in the scientific culture of Romantic Europe and a brief history of its interpretation, this lecture will look at some of Frankenstein’s myriad popular adaptations and offer a serious reassessment of its virtues as a novel. Or is it as a myth? Either way, we will recover Frankenstein’s significance for its original audience while at the same time identifying its relevance to us at our own stage in the long scientific revolution.

All members of the public are welcome to come, listen, and share their thoughts about this great work of literature over a friendly glass of wine.



A graduate of the universities of Sydney and Oxford, Professor Will Christie is Director of the Humanities Research Centre at the ANU. He is founding President of the Romantic Studies Association of Australasia and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. His scholarly work in Romantic studies has been widely published and his Samuel Taylor Coleridge: A Literary Life (2006) awarded the NSW Premier’s Biennial Prize for Literary Scholarship in 2008. Editor of The Letters of Francis Jeffrey to Thomas and Jane Welsh Carlyle(2008), his other publications include The Edinburgh Review in the Literary Culture of Romantic Britain: Mammoth and Megalonyx (2009), Dylan Thomas: A Literary Life (2014) and The Two Romanticisms, and Other Essays (2016). With the aid of Discovery grants from the Australian Research Council, he is currently researching a critical biography of the Scottish critic, politician, and judge, Francis Jeffrey, editor of the early nineteenth-century Edinburgh Review, and a major study of public lecturing in the Romantic period.

Professor Christie is a reader for the Australian Research Council, a member of the Advisory Group for the University of Edinburgh/Duke University Carlyle Letters Project, and is on the Advisory Board of Carlyle Studies Annual and the International Advisory Board of the journal European Romantic Review.


For many years president of the Dylan Thomas Society of Australia and an active member of a number of literary societies, Professor Christie is also the author of Under Mulga Wood (2004), an award-winning play for voices that has enjoyed performances around Australia and been broadcast and recorded by the ABC.


Date & time

Fri 02 Mar 2018, 5.30–7pm


Theatrette, Sir Roland Wilson Building


Professor Will Christie (Australian National University)


Penny Brew
+61 2 6125 4357


Updated:  5 February 2018/Responsible Officer:  Head, Centre/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications