Book Name: Motherless Creations: Fictions Of Artificial Life
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This book explains the elimination of maternal characters in American, British, French, and German literature before 1890 by examining motherless creations: Pygmalion’s statue, Frankenstein’s creature, homunculi, automata, androids, golems, and steam men. These beings typify what is now called artificial life, living systems made through manufactured means. Fantasies about creating life ex-utero were built upon misconceptions about how life began, sustaining pseudoscientific beliefs about the birthing body. Physicians, inventors, and literature authors imagined generating life without women to control the reproduction process and generate perfect progeny. Thus, some speculative fiction before 1890 belongs to the literary genealogy of transhumanism, the belief that technology will someday transform some humans into superior, immortal beings. Female motherless creations tend to operate as sexual companions. Male ones often emerge as subaltern figures analogous to enslaved beings, illustrating that reproductive rights inform readers’ sense of who counts as human in the fiction of artificial life.

Table of contents :

Half Title
Series Page
Title Page
Copyright Page
Table of Contents
List of Figures
Introduction: Fictionality and Artificial Life
Gender, Race, and Transhumanism
Overview of Chapters
Scope and Methodology
Part 1: The Rationale for Creating Life without Mothers, 1650–1800
Chapter 1: Fables about the Birthing Body in the Long Eighteenth Century
The Dangers of Maternal Imagination
Beautiful Children in “Callipaedia”
The Womb as a Tomb
The Homunculus in Embryology and Alchemy
Chapter 2: Automaton: The Analogy of “Man a Machine” in Descartes and Obstetrics
Descartes, Automata, and Imagination
Man-Midwives and Forceps
Smellie’s Birthing Machine
Vaucanson’s Automata
Chapter 3: Pygmalion as Creator of Artificial Life
Deslandes and Materialist Creation
Imagination as the Spark of Life
Rousseau and Self-Reflexive Creation
Appendix: Chronological Bibliography of Pygmalion Texts, 1689-1890 46
Part 2: Motherless Children in Literature of the Romantic Era, 1800–1832
Chapter 4: Homunculus and the Search for Immortality in Goethe’s Faust
Artificial Lives and Deaths
Homunculus’s Alchemical Creation
Artificial Families
Goethe’s Two-Sex Model of Creating Life
Professors Making Students
Chapter 5: Olympia and the Romance Scam in Hoffmann’s The Sandman
Nathanael’s Unreliable Narration
The Uncanny
The Chess Player, Poe, and Automata
The Professor as, Swindler
Olympia and Klara as Musical Counterpoint
Chapter 6: The Creature, His Companion, and the Singularity in Shelley’s Frankenstein
The Effect of Maternal Absence
An Education in Solitary Creation
Making a Monster
The Creature’s Race
Miscegenation and the Companion
The Incestuous Brides of Frankenstein
Chapter 7: The Golem: A Reflection on the Purpose of Artificial Life
The Golem in Jewish Tradition
The Anonymous Creators of Golems in Grimm and Brentano
Arnim’s Isabella of Egypt
Golem Bella
The Golem in Hoffmann and O’Brien
The Golem and Frankenstein
Part 3: Making Artificial Slaves in French and American Literature, 1850–1890
Chapter 8: The Sex Bot Hadaly in Villiers’s Tomorrow’s Eve
Alicia Clary, Evelyn Habal, and Degeneration
The Android Hadaly’s Ideal Corpse
Hysteria and Sowana
Inhuman Women
Edison as Engineer of Humans
Engineering French Families
Chapter 9: Constructing Identity through the “Iron Slave” in Melville’s The Bell-Tower
Identifying the Iron Slave
White Identity in Melville
The Artist versus the Machine
Chapter 10: White Supremacy in Ellis’s The Steam Man
Prequel to the Edisonade
The Steam Man as Postbellum Slave
Gynecological Experiments
The Steam Man as Mediator of Racial Hierarchies
Black Performers as Machines
Comparative Conclusion
Chapter 11: Conclusion
The Narratological Function of Motherless Creations and Their Makers
The Threat and Potential of Motherless Creations
Missing Mothers


Motherless Creations: Fictions Of Artificial Life, 1650-1890 PDF

Author(s): Wendy C. Nielsen

Series: Routledge Studies In Speculative Fiction | 7

Publisher: Routledge | Taylor & Francis Group, Year: 2022

ISBN: 1003276105,9781003276104


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