Robots and Monsters: Unruly Hu

LIT 210

What if humans had the power to create intelligent life. What would they do with that power? What would such creatures be like? These questions have captivated the imagination of storytellers for thousands of years. Prometheus stole the power to create life from the Greek gods. The Rabbi of Prague brought a clay creature to life with magical incantations. Frankenstein accomplished it with science on the operating table. And computer programmers try to build such creatures with AI technology. In stories, the end is always the same: the creature gets out of control, it threatens its creator and needs to be subdued. In this course, we will read stories of human effort to bring to life their own creations. We will discuss the literary features of such fantastical creations as the Golem, Frankenstein’s monster, Androids and AI. Over the semester we will come to appreciate the human desires and fantasies associated with this figure, and ask what these robots and monsters can tell us about our own humanity.