Loving the Machine: Human-Machine Relationships in Film and Television

full name / name of organization: 
Cynthia Miller/Film & History
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Call for Papers
"Loving the Machine: Human-Machine Relationships in Film and Television"
2010 Film & History Conference: Representations of Love in Film and Television
November 11-14, 2010
Hyatt Regency Milwaukee
Second Round Deadline: November 1, 2009

AREA: "Loving the Machine: Human-Machine Relationships in Film and Television"
In the last century, the long-running discourse of human-machine relations extended to film and television depictions of struggles for power, intimacy, identity, or security. Potential social conflicts engendered by producing machines that operate in their own self-interest have been explored in films such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Bladerunner, AI: Artificial Intelligence, I, Robot, and The Bicentennial Man, and, on television, in stories such as the classic Twilight Zone episode "The Lonely," the "Valerie 23" and "Mary 25"episodes of The Outer Limits, and the 1980s TV series Small Wonder. Human-machine relationships run the gamut from comedic to sinister. In The Desk Set, a satire of contemporary worries about how smart computers would affect the human labor force, Woody Allen's character struggles with toasters, tape recorders, and cars, whereas much darker forces are at work in the relationship between a man and his machine in Christine. These and other stories have raised numerous questions: Is sex with an android any different than sex with a vibrator? Could a machine love you back? What does the "cyborg-ization of society" mean, and how does it alter the Cartesian distinction between living and non-living things?
This area, comprising multiple panels, invites submissions that explore this subject from a variety of methodologies. Topics might include but are not limited to the following:
• Human/machine relationships in Anime
• The anthropomorphism and/or gendering of ships, vehicles, and weapons
• The recent trend of producing shorts with robotic pets for YouTube
• Android love
• Obsession with a particular machine
• Dystopian representations of machine-run societies
• Love/hate relationships with machines
• Robots as either saviors or conquerors
• Mystical or magical sources in human/machine stories
• Literary sources of films and teleplays about love and the machine
• Philosophical bases of our ideas about our relationship with machines
Please send your 200-word proposal (by e-mail only) to the area chair:
Lisa Nocks, Area Chair
Federated Department of History
New Jersey Institute of Technology
Newark, NJ 07102
email: lnocks@gmail.com
Panel proposals for up to four presenters are also welcome, but each presenter must submit his or her own paper proposal. For updates and registration information about the upcoming meeting, see the Film & History website (www.uwosh.edu/filmandhistory).