Call for Papers

“Loving the Machine: Human-Machine Relationships in Film and Television”

2010 Film & History Conference: Representations of Love in Film and


November 10-14, 2010

Hyatt Regency Milwaukee

First Round Deadline: November 1, 2009

AREA: “Loving the Machine: Human-Machine Relationships in Film and


In the last century, the long-running discourse of human-machine

relations extended to film and television depictions of struggles for

power, intimacy, identity, or security. Potential social conflicts

engendered by producing machines that operate in their own self-interest

have been explored in films such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Bladerunner,

AI: Artificial Intelligence, I, Robot, and The Bicentennial Man, and, on

television, in stories such as the classic Twilight Zone episode “The

Lonely,” the “Valerie 23” and “Mary 25″episodes of The Outer Limits, and

the 1980s TV series Small Wonder. Human-machine relationships run the

gamut from comedic to sinister. In The Desk Set, a satire of

contemporary worries about how smart computers would affect the human

labor force, Woody Allen’s character struggles with toasters, tape

recorders, and cars, whereas much darker forces are at work in the

relationship between a man and his machine in Christine. These and other

stories have raised numerous questions: Is sex with an android any

different than sex with a vibrator? Could a machine love you back? What

does the “cyborg-ization of society” mean, and how does it alter the

Cartesian distinction between living and non-living things?

This area, comprising multiple panels, invites submissions that explore

this subject from a variety of methodologies. Topics might include but

are not limited to the following:

• Human/machine relationships in Anime

• The anthropomorphism and/or gendering of ships, vehicles, and weapons

• The recent trend of producing shorts with robotic pets for YouTube

• Android love

• Obsession with a particular machine

• Dystopian representations of machine-run societies

• Love/hate relationships with machines

• Robots as either saviors or conquerors

• Mystical or magical sources in human/machine stories

• Literary sources of films and teleplays about love and the machine

• Philosophical bases of our ideas about our relationship with machines

Please send your 200-word proposal (by e-mail only) to the area chair:

Lisa Nocks, Area Chair

Federated Department of History

New Jersey Institute of Technology

Newark, NJ 07102

email: [email protected]

Panel proposals for up to four presenters are also welcome, but each

presenter must submit his or her own paper proposal. For updates and

registration information about the upcoming meeting, see the Film &

History website (