Romantic automata : exhibits, figures, organisms
Part of the Transits: literature, thought & culture 1650-1850 series
A deep dread of puppets and the machinery that propels them surfaced in Romantic literature in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century; Romantic Automata is a collection of essays examining the rise of cultural suspicion of all imitations of homo sapiens and similar machinery, as witnessed in the literature and arts of the time.
For most of the eighteenth century, automata were deemed a celebration of human ingenuity, feats of science and reason.
Among the Romantics, however, they prompted a contradictory apprehension about mechanization and contrivance: such science and engineering threatened the spiritual nature of life, the source of compassion in human society.
Recent scholarship in post-humanism, post-colonialism, disability studies, post-modern feminism, eco-criticism, and radical Orientalism has significantly affected the critical discourse on this topic.
The essays in this collection open new methodological approaches to understanding human interaction with technology that strives to simulate or to supplement organic life.