Dissertation Information for Elizabeth G. Bridges
MPACT Status: Incomplete - Not_Inspected
Title: Die Mensch-Maschine: Technologies of replication and reproduction in German-language literature and culture
Abstract: The German-speaking cultures have had a complex and often problematic relationship with technology, especially from a post-World War II perspective that often negatively associates histories of technology in these cultures with the technocratic and militaristic aims of the Nazi regime. At least since the industrial revolution, German images of technology have been alternately depicted, celebrated, and critiqued through images of technological reproduction, be it mechanical, biological, or a combination of both. In fiction and visual art, this theme has manifested itself in mechanized visions of the human body, particularly in the fantasy of the cyborg or robotic woman. Later, more "virtual" technologies of replication, meanwhile, may offer progressive political possibilities that break from limiting past narratives. This dissertation examines such instances in light of historical discourses of automation and bioscience, as evoked in key texts since the industrial revolution. The main textual examples will span from fiction (E.T.A. Hoffmann's "The Sand-Man" and "Automata," as well as current German science fiction novels like Charlotte Kerner's Blueprint ), to film (Fritz Lang's Metropolis ), to visual art (the work of Swiss-German sculptor and illustrator H.R. Giger), and music ("techno" in the German history of electronically produced and reproduced music). In close readings of these texts, this study will apply the work of recent critics such as Donna Haraway, especially with regard to Germany's legacy as an industrialized nation, its past engagement with eugenics, and current debates on issues of gender and biotechnology.
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