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Anatomy of a Robot: Literature, Cinema, and the Cultural Work of Artificial People Paperback – June 9, 2014

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Wide-ranging in its examples, erudite, politically relevant, and profound in its implications, this book is essential for anyone interested in our long history with created others."
(Sherryl Vint University of California, Riverside 2013-06-28)

"Anatomy of a Robot offers an insightful analysis of the cultural work artificial people perform as they elucidate what it is to be human; a refreshing intervention in the field and impressive in its breadth."
(Teresa Heffernan Saint Mary’s University 2013-07-01)

"This book is literary criticism that looks at the robot as a trope across media, from ancient myths to modern-day movies. The book has four overarching themes that Kakoudaki presents in separate chapters: 'The Artificial Birth,' 'The Mechanical Body,' 'The Mechanical Slave,' and 'The Existential Cyborg.' [Kakoudaki provides] a great deal of historical and cultural depth, exploring a diversity of tropes across all of recorded history. Highly recommended."

(Choice 2015-03-01)

About the Author

 DESPINA KAKOUDAKI is an associate professor in the department of literature at American University in Washington, D.C.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press (July 7, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813562155
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813562155
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 9.2 x 6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,410,426 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Despina Kakoudaki teaches interdisciplinary courses in literature and film, visual culture, and the history of technology and new media at American University in Washington DC. Her research interests include cultural studies, science fiction, apocalyptic narratives, and the representation of race and gender in literature and film. Her new book, is Anatomy of a Robot: Literature, Cinema, and the Cultural Work of Artificial People (Rutgers University Press, 2014). She received a fellowship from the National Endowment for this project, which traces the history and cultural function of constructed people and animated objects in literature and film.

Despina Kakoudaki completed her doctorate in Comparative Literature at the University of California at Berkeley, and taught at Berkeley and at Harvard University before joining AU. She has published articles on robots and cyborgs, race and melodrama in action and disaster films, body transformation and technology in early film, the political role of the pin-up in World War II, and the representation of the archive in postmodern fiction. She has also co-edited a collection of essays on the work of Pedro Almodovar with Brad Epps (University of Minnesota Press, 2009).

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sarah Papazoglakis on July 16, 2014
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent book that tries to answer that question. It manages to be a serious study tracing the historical influences that shape the robot story as well as an entertaining journey through Western literature and culture from The Iliad to Battlestar Galactica. Kakoudaki charts a long history of artificial people from Galatea to Bicentennial Man and offers compelling connections by examining familiar figures and placing them in the context of Western culture from Ancient Greece to today. One example of this is the relationship between Antebellum slavery and technology that the book establishes in the chapter entitled "The Mechanical Slave": "while we may not associate our technological innovations with chattel slavery, we still use a vocabulary that includes its historical memories." Anatomy of a Robot promises to be a gratifying read for a wide audience ranging from literary theorists and historians to popular culture enthusiasts.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Aaron Long on August 3, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Despina Kakoudaki's recent book, 'Anatomy of a Robot', raises fascinating, provocative, and disturbing questions about the development of mechanical bodies and the technological enhancement of biological bodies:

What is a robot?
What aspects of human embodiment are mirrored by the robot bodies we construct, either with our industry or with our imaginations?
How does our understanding of the robot shape our perceptions of bioethical issues?
What is it like to BE a robot, and how do we think about the way robots should be treated?

Additionally, by showing her reader how, for the past two centuries, books and film have imagined and reimagined the (human) bodies and their purposes, Kakoudaki's work makes it much easier to recognize the crucial role that popular culture, which we so often assume exists merely for entertainment, is playing in shaping our understanding of personhood and our perspectives on the ethical issues surrounding technological development and bodily existence.

This book's emphasis on popular culture makes it accessible to the interested reader, and its deft conversance with literary theory makes it the latest installment in a growing discourse on technology and posthumanism/nonhumanism that includes the work of, among others, Leo Marx, Donna Haraway, N. Katherine Hayles, David Nye, Paul Outka, and Nicole Shukin. As such, it is a helpful addition to an academic library or the resource center of a tech corporation think tank.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Randy Cohen on July 14, 2014
Format: Paperback
Started browsing Anatomy of a Robot...was completely drawn in and read it cover-to-cover. So many great movies from Metropolis to Blade Runner are presented as a fab metaphor for our high velocity 20th century evolution and human development. Awesome read.
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Anatomy of a Robot: Literature, Cinema, and the Cultural Work of Artificial People
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