From an undergraduate seminar in English at Harvard University, taught by Professor Margaret Rhee author of Love, Robot, Machine Dreams is a podcast that features authors of fiction, poetry, and electronic literature. The seminar explores the ways technology is represented in, and shaped by literary texts. For example, in 1920, Czech playwright Karel Čapek coined the term "robot" in his play R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots) and transformed societal conceptions of mechanical beings. With a focus on contemporary literature and digital theory, books discussed in the course include Douglas Kearny's The Black Automaton (2009), How We Became Posthuman (1999) by N. Katherine Hales, and The Automaton Biographies (2009) by Larissa Lai, as well as android music videos by Janelle Monae (among other media) for example. In addition to critical reading and writing, students explored robots, technology, and science fiction by creating a podcast together. Students were involved in all aspects of podcast creation: interviewing authors, creating podcast music, editing interviews, and designing the website. For more information on digital learning in the seminar, please check out our pedagogy page on the website.
In particular, our seminar focused on an array of issues such as authorship, human-machine relations, form, embodiment, justice, and aesthetics through engaged conversation. In this course, students were not only readers of literature, but they were creators by utilizing their knowledge to interview some of the most exciting authors working in the intersection of literature and technology.
Hosted by students of the seminar Machine Dreams, these dynamic conversations demonstrate the insightful ways students and authors can exchange ideas on technology and literature. Thought-provoking, intimate, fun, and future-thinking, the hosts of this podcast shows us that there is more to the story, poem, and technology. They show us the exciting ways a conversation in the seminar can extend out, with engagement with the author, and with our listeners, further shedding light on the possibilities of learning, literature, and machines in our digital age.
You can listen to the episodes on Soundcloud and from our website. We invite you to visit our course film, and to read more about the respective authors on our authors page. Subscribe to listen to all the available episodes and the forthcoming one. You can follow the series on iTunes or Spotify. Thanks for listening!
Poet and Ph.D. candidate Blair Johnson is our new associate producer of this program.
We thank the following authors for their interviews:
Eugene Lim, Larissa Lai, Mark Marino, Darius Kazemi, Katie Williams, George Abraham, and Douglas Kearny.