“My imagination, unbidden, possessed and guided me, gifting the successive images...”

— Mary Shelley, Frankenstein


An image of Mary Shelley’s draft of Frankenstein.

On June 16, 1816, a 19-year-old woman sat quietly listening as her lover (the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley) and a small group of friends — including celebrated poet Lord Byron — discussed conducting a ghost-story contest. The couple was spending their holiday in a beautiful mansion on the banks of scenic Lake Geneva in Switzerland. As the conversation about ghost stories heated up, a discussion arose about the principle of life. Not surprisingly, the ensuing talk of graves and corpses led to a sleepless night filled with horrific nightmares for Mary Shelley. Later, she recalled her own contest entry began with eight words; “It was on a dreary night in November…” Just two years later, in 1818, that young woman, Mary Shelley, published her expanded submission as the novel Frankenstein, not only a classic of 19th-century fiction, but a work that has enjoyed immense influence on popular culture, science, medicine, philosophy and the arts all the way up to the present day.



Commemorating the 200th anniversary of the novel’s publication in 1818, Washington University is hosting a competition open to WU students (full time and registered in fall 2018), both undergraduate and graduate.
The submission deadlines are as follows:
     non-electronic submissions — drop-off hours on Thursday, October 11 and Monday, October 15 (see below)
     electronic submissions — Monday, October 15 (see below)

The prompt for our own WU “Monster Challenge” is “The New Frankenstein”:

If you learned of a contest today, similar to the one that inspired the publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in 1818, what new Frankenstein would you create? Winning entries will be those best exemplifying the spirit, tone and feeling of Frankenstein for our age.

Submissions are eligible in two categories: written (including poetry, fiction, nonfiction and theater; 5000 word limit) and visual (including new media, experimental media, sound art, performance art, and design). Only one submission is allowed per student or student collaboration group. The winners will be determined by a jury of faculty members and announced in the fall 2018 semester. Winning entries will also be featured on the Frankenstein Bicentennial website (frankenstein200.wustl.edu).

Through the generosity of Provost Holden Thorpe’s office, winners will receive a cash prize as well as the opportunity to have their submission read, exhibited, and/or performed during the fall 2018 semester. Prizes are as follows:           

WRITTEN CATEGORY                            VISUAL CATEGORY

Grand Prize: $1000                               Grand Prize: $1000

2nd Prize: $500                                       2nd Prize: $500

3rd Prize: $250                                       3rd Prize: $250



Click image
to download

Group form

Please review the guidelines below and download the appropriate submission form (right) for your project.

Click image
to download
Individual form

  • Only one submission is allowed per student or student collaboration group.

  • Electronic submissions — email to iph@wustl.edu along with the appropriate submission form (right) by 3 pm, October 15, 2018.

  • Non-electronic submissions — drop off in at the Performing Arts Department in Mallinckrodt Center, Room 312 during the following hours: Thurs., Oct. 11, 1 – 4 pm or Mon., Oct. 15, 2 – 3 pm. You must bring1) the object and 2) the appropriate submission form. All applicants submitting work here must also send an email to iph@wustl.edu with a digital image of the work and the appropriate submission form (right). Since judging will be anonymous, we may not be able to consider your work if you do not submit your digital image and submission form to iph@wustl.edu. Entries should fit into a case 74" w x 87" h x 23" d. For exceptions, please contact Professor Patricia Olynyk (olynyk@wustl.edu).



For additional information about the contest, please contact the Interdisciplinary Project in the Humanities: iph@wustl.edu.