James Whale directing Boris Karloff as the creature in the 1931 film Frankenstein.

Rummaging through the Queer Closets of James Whale’s Frankenstein Films



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In 1931 and 1935, respectively, James Whale, classical Hollywood’s most openly gay filmmaker, directed Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein, the two most famous, admired, imitated, and parodied films based upon elements of Mary Shelley’s landmark 1818 novel. Indeed, many people have a sense of Frankenstein from these films more than Shelley’s writing, yet they differ vastly from the novel.

The films have been interpreted as reflecting historical contexts and issues of gender, race, and sexuality, but where do we find Whale’s input, especially given that so many players were involved? This talk by film scholar David Lugowski considers the first film in particular in terms of adaptation, production history, censorship, and Whale’s authorship from the angles of Englishness, theatricality, his World War I veteran status, and queer visualizations of the closet.

Co-hosted by ASU’s Department of English and the Center for Science and the Imagination

Location: Need help finding the Centerpoint building? Check out this map. The entrance is on the north side of the building, directly across from the Z’Tejas restaurant on 6th Street.

Parking: Paid parking is available in the Centerpoint parking structure on 730 Ash Avenue. Here’s a map to the entrance.