The Frankenstein Meme: The Memetic Prominence of Mary Shelley’s Creature in Anglo-American Visual and Material Cultures

  • Shannon Rollins
Part of the Studies in Global Science Fiction book series (SGSF)


Whether loyal to the original plot, or divergent to the point of parody, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; or the Modern Prometheus is a persistent cultural organism. I argue that the continued popularity of Shelley’s Creature as source material in popular culture is due to the narrative’s suitability as a shorthand for liminality in Anglo-American material cultures: dark creation narratives, monstrosity, fabrication and bricolage, as well as the implications of isolation on the human psyche. I call this phenomenon the Frankenstein meme, building on the meme theories of Richard Dawkins, Susan Blackmore, and Aaron Lynch. This chapter traces the course of Shelley’s original narrative through a sample of popular culture, noting the direct impact of Frankenstein’s crucial components, and examines the fitness of Frankenstein as a meme.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shannon Rollins
    • 1
  1. 1.Edinburgh College of ArtUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghUK

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