Engenderneered Machines in Science Fiction Film

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Roy Schwartzman, Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/

Abstract: The fear that human creations might backfire and attack their creators has been a mainstay of science fiction at least since Mary Shelley?s Frankenstein. The misgivings become particularly acute when human-engineered imitations of human beings (i.e., robots and cyborgs) raise questions regarding how humans can be distinguished from machines. Assumptions about gender also infuse the ways humans conceive and react to their mechanical progeny (i.e., robots and cyborgs). Whenever human-like creations are embodied, they encounter the fundamental bodily quality of sexuality. The cinematic exploration "fleshes out" how posthuman technological innovations are engendered in their engineering. By problematizing the roles that gender can play in the very conceptions of what counts as human or machine, gender constructions infuse technological innovation in various challenging ways. "Engenderneering" may be understood as the construction or interpretation of a gender- neutral object so that its gender becomes part of its essence. This personification, far from merely personifying an object, engenders the object by making gender roles and expectations central to how humans interact with non-human (usually also interpreted as less-than-human) entities. For example, ships have been christened traditionally as female, the reliable (i.e., motherly) bearers that keep passengers afloat upon the amniotic oceans. Gender is already so intertwined with human experience that the terra "engender"—aside from its intransitive sense of attributing sexual identity—acquires its primary meaning as a synonym for creation itself. Anna Balsamo (1996) laments that new technologies such as virtual reality simply "reproduce, in high-tech guise, traditional narratives about the gendered, race-marked body" (132). In the case of science fiction films, the project of engenderneering is rarely innovative. Instead, the emergence of new machines and forms of life leave basically intact the familiar stories of "proper" feminine roles.

Additional Information

Studies in Popular Culture 22.1 (October 1999): 75-87
Language: English
Date: 1999
Human-like creations, Robots, Sexual identity, Engenderneering

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A comparison of watershed nitrogen loading and watershed nitrogen exports from on-site wastewater treatment systems and centralized sewer systems in the North Carolina Coastal Plainhttp://hdl.handle.net/10342/4223The described resource references, cites, or otherwise points to the related resource.