Fall 2016 - Undergraduate Course Descriptions

Starnaman, Sabrina
Discipline and Number
LIT 3316 Section 501
M Time 7:00 PM - 9:45 PM
Course Title
Cyborgs & Robots

Description of Course:

This course explores the relationship between humans and technology. We will examine how mankind envisions robots and their place within human society. In particular we will look to representations of humanoid machines, as well as human enhancement that blurs the lines among human, machine, and cyborg. We will read and discuss novels, short stories, and drama; and we will view and discuss films and video.

• What makes us human? At what point does a technologically augmented person become something other than human? Are we already cyborgs or is there some future threshold that will constitute our transformation?
• Can humans and machines have meaningful relationships? Can humans and machines be partners? Lovers?
• How does gender figure in the depiction of android robots? Are there clichés that writers revert to when writing about human-robot relationships? What do such clichés tell us about society?
• What do we fear about the proliferation of robots and androids? Have these fears changed over time?
• How do robots or androids stand in for other entities in stories of political criticism? For example, do robots represent the power of the law or government when authors want to make a particularly pointed critique?
• How do writers use fictional robots to tell us about how we treat people in service roles? Do robots represent humans that we consider less than full citizens?
• What models of human enhancement do we imagine for our own future? Will enhancement alienate us from human experience or social relations?

This course can be applied to the Medical and Scientific Humanities minor.
Learn more at: http://provost.utdallas.edu/oueminors/medical_and_scientific_humanities#info

Required Texts:

“A Wife Manufactured to Order,” Alice Fuller. (1895) (.pdf on eLearning)
R.U.R., Karel ÄŒapek. (1920)
“Helen O’Loy,” Lester del Rey (1938) (.pdf on eLearning)
With Folded Hands, Jack Williamson. (1947) (.pdf on eLearning)
The Caves of Steel, Isaac Asimov (1953)
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Philip K. Dick. (1968)
The Ship Who Sang, Anne McCaffrey (1985)
“Fade to White,” Catherynne Valente (2012) (.pdf on eLearning)
“The Girl-Thing Who Went Out for Sushi,” Pat Cadigan. (2012) (.pdf on eLearning)

Films to be viewed in class:
Metropolis (Metropolis Restored) (1927) (Available on Netflix)
The Stepford Wives (1975)
RoboCop (2014) Available on reserve at the library, to rent or buy on Amazon Prime, for purchase on iTunes.
Black Mirror: “The Entire History of You.” Season 1, ep. 3. BBC (2011)
Black Mirror: “Be Right Back.” Season 2, ep. 1. BBC (2013)

Copies of the texts are available at Off Campus Books.
Off Campus Books (located behind Fuzzy’s Tacos)
561 W. Campbell Road, #201
Richardson, TX 75080

Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:

Reading Quizzes
Short Papers (3)
Final Creative Project or Analytical Paper
Active Participation

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