LIT 3046 – Woman as Cyborg
Taught by Professor Maria Sachiko Cecire
From the robot Maria in the 1927 film Metropolis to the female-voiced Siri application for iPhone, mechanized creations that perform physical, emotional, and computational labor have been routinely identified as women in both fiction and reality. In this course, we will discuss how gynoids, fembots, and other feminine-gendered machinery reflect the roles of women’s work and women’s bodies in technologized society. Why might it matter that “typewriter” and “computer” used to be titles for jobs held by women? How do the histories of enslaved women’s stolen labor, reproductive capacities, and autonomy shape modern ideas of women’s work? What can cyborgism contribute to feminist theory? Beginning with discussions about what we mean when we say “woman” and “cyborg,” this course will draw upon scholarship by Judith Butler, Silvia Federici, Donna Haraway, Arlie Russell Hochschild, Andreas Huyssen, Jennifer L. Morgan, and others as we explore the relationships between race, gender, modernity, labor, and mechanization in a range of cultural texts. These will include written works from ancient Greece, Karel Capek’s 1923 play R.U.R. (in which the word “robot” first appeared), Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, Octavia Butler’s Kindred, Ira Levin’s The Stepford Wives, and examples from film, TV, popular music, as well as real-world androids and computer programs.