Newswise — Robison is available to discuss the long-term significance in western culture of Dr.Victor Frankenstein's famous (and nameless) monster. He begins with a discussion of the author Mary Shelley; her famous parents (political activists William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft), her husband and poet Percy Shelley, and her friends, most notably Lord Byron. Robison discusses how Shelley came to write "Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus," which was published in 1818, the controversy that it engendered at the time, and its lasting literary legacy.
Robison can also address the popularity of stage adaptations of the novel in the 19th and early 20th centuries. He will trace the history of the story on film, from Thomas Edison's little know short of 1910 to such recent films as "Gods and Monsters" (1998), the latest version of "Frankenstein" (2004), and "Van Helsing" (2004). He gives particular emphasis to the Universal Studios classics starring Boris Karloff as the monster (beginning with "Frankenstein" in 1931), the Hammer Horror series starring Peter Cushing as Baron Frankenstein), and some famous spoofs, including "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein" (1948) and Mel Brooks' "Young Frankenstein" (1974), regarded by some critics and fans as the funniest movie ever made.
The lecture concludes with a brief survey of the Frankenstein story's wider impact on popular culture, where it has influenced everything from television sitcoms such as "The Munsters" to children's breakfast cereal (Frankenberry), to the debate over stem cell research.
Biographical SketchDr. William Robison is professor and head of the Department of History and Political Science at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, LA., where he specializes in British history and European history after 1500. A graduate of Louisiana State University, he was awarded Southeastern's President's Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1996. He held the Fay Warren Reimers Distinguished Teaching Professorship in the Humanities from 1996 to 1999.
For several years now, Robison has presented an annual Halloween lecture as part of Fanfare, the university's fall festival of arts and humanities. He describes his purpose as threefold: to explore the relationship between serious history and popular culture and how the latter often distorts the former; to demonstrate that studying history is both edifying and entertaining: and to have a little harmless Halloween fund. Lectures typically begin with some sort of comedic stunt and end with Robison throwing candy to the audience.
Previous lectures have included: Â· Bad History Goes to the MovesÂ· Vampires, Werewolves, Witches and Wizards: Popular Superstition in Late Medieval and Early Modern EuropeÂ· Nostradamus: Poet, Prophet, Pharmacist, 'Phraud'Â· Monster Movies and History.