Mind in the Machine

Der Mensch als Industriepalast by Fritz Kahn

Der Mensch als Industriepalast by Fritz Kahn

Course Description: As technology has grown to play a more prominent role in everyday life, the tension between nature and technology has appeared in a wide variety of literature, film, and other cultural artifacts. Since the Industrial Revolution, fictional mechanical men, robots, and other automata have enraptured audiences in the Western world. Using works such as Metropolis, R.U.R., Battlestar Galactica, and stories by Isaac Asimov, we will look at how the automata represent the feelings towards the increased mechanization of society and individuals at critical points in the twentieth century. In particular, we will explore how automata simultaneously reflect both the love of technology and the fear of losing what it means to be human in an increasingly mechanical world.

Students will develop their ideas through discussion, writing, and a process of peer review, self-assessment, and revision. As a capstone to the seminar, students will write an 8-10 page research paper exploring how representations of automata embody the prevailing hopes and fears of technology.

Readings and Films Include:

Fictional:

Scholarly:

Readings about Writing:

Offered: Spring 2012, University of Rochester