Robots and Representation

Allison de Fren

Allison de Fren is an Assistant Professor of Art History and the Visual Arts at Occidental College in Los Angeles. She was with Connecticut College as the Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow from 2008-2010 in the Ammerman Center for Arts & Technology.

She is a film and media scholar, as well as an award-winning media practitioner, whose dissertation on representations of artificial female bodies, from the Renaissance to the present, was an outgrowth of a feature-length documentary that she produced and directed. The film, The Mechanical Bride (an homage to Marshall McLuhan), explores the Pygmalionesque fantasy of creating the perfect female artificially, particularly as it is represented within science fiction film, television, and literature, and the ways in which the fantasy both informs and conflicts with the current-day attempt to create robotic companions.

Her current research and practice focuses on issues around embodiment and technology in relation to gender, and her pastimes include dolls, puppets, robots and other uncanny assemblages. She has recently published two essays in back-to-back special issues of Science Fiction Studies Journal (July and November 2009). Her essay "The Anatomical Gaze in Tomorrow's Eve (L'Eve future)" won a 2009 Schachterle Prize, Best Essay in Literature and Science by an Untenured Scholar, from The Society for Science, Literature and the Arts.

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