Literature and Technology from Frankenstein to the Futurists (ITALIAN 344)
What is technology? What are some prevailing attitudes towards technology and when and where did they originate? What lessons can be drawn from literature and philosophy to understand our own current technological dependence? In this course we will pose anew the question concerning technology and go back to the First and Second Industrial Revolutions when humans first came into intense contact with machines and restructured life and literature around them. We will look at the encounter of the human with various machines and technological devices (automata, trains, phonographs, cameras) in major European literary works from Shelley's "Frankenstein" (1818) to Pirandello's "The Notebooks of Serafino Gubbio, Cinematograph Operator" (1925), while inquiring into the nature of technology and what it means to be human through key philosophical texts from Plato to Heidegger and N. Katherine Hayles. Other texts that we will discuss include excerpts from Collodi's "Pinocchio" (1883), Zola's "La bête humaine" (1890), F.T. Marinetti's "Manifesto of Futurism" (1909), and Karel Capek's "R.U.R." (1920).