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Notes Towards Day 14: Technology and Sexuality

Summary of conversation

I. Welcome back: any relevant tales?

My trip to New Mexico was filled with
images of gender and technology.
(Sculpture on the street in Taos:)

“Thought of the universe and inner form of speech is said to be male. Speech of the universe and outer form of thought is said to be female. The pair is manifest in the universe as bi-polar.” (Gary Witherspon, linguist, as quoted in “Here Now and Always,” Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, Santa Fe).”Shelter is an extension of the natural world. It reflects the relationship of earth and sky.” (same exhibition)

II. Coursekeeping: missing some papers, some mid-semester evals….
today: following Rebecca’s suggestion of small groups w/ different tasks, ending w/ aalch, Cat and Guienevere’s suggestions re: endings…

III. But First: Stand and Deliver!
–celebrate Laura’s 41st Birthday
–introduce Hlin?
–Final Set of Introductions of us all….

IV. Metropolis, discussed in small “disciplinary groups,” with help from Peter Ruppert, “Technology and the Construction of Gender in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis,” Genders 32 (2000).

1. Tell each other your reactions to film
2. See what you think of (one paragraph of!) Ruppert’s take on it
3. Using a theoretical frame from your own discipline,
decide how to describe one aspect of the movie to the rest of us.
4. Write this on the board….

(Selections from) Peter Ruppert, “Technology and the Construction of Gender in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis,” Genders 32 (2000):

Arguably the most influential Science Fiction film of all time, Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1926)… inaugurates an entire genre and nearly exhausts its formal possibilities….a technological fantasy that mirrors both our fears and our fascination with technology…. the film thematizes the relationship among female sexuality, male-oriented vision, and film technology….the key to the film’s ongoing fascination lies in its mesh of technology and sexuality, its blend of melodrama, social critique and spectacle…. not just a conflation of the gender stereotyping and technophobia circulating through Weimar culture…but a contradictory exploration of gender roles that recognizes the ambivalence of both technology and femininity, indicating possibilities for both the oppression of women and their liberation….the film provides us with a “cognitive mapping”…of the techno-sexual relationships in the world of its composition, and beyond.

Bio majors (DC,Hillary,Shikha)
on Maria’s transformation from robot to a female-cyborg?

CompSci Majors I (Alexandra,Cleo,Solomon,Simran)
on the effects of technology?

CompSci majors II (Marwa,Natasha,prp)
on the cyborg who acts in defiance
of its programming? (and the human who does ditto?)

Econ majors (Guinevere,dekman,farhat) on class warfare?

English majors I (Carrie,George,Melinda,Mista Jay)
on the use of the male gaze?

English majors II (Hannah,Michelle,Ruth,Sugar Spice)
on the film’s (lack of?) narrativity?

Math majors (aaclh,Cat,hlin) on how patterns operate in the film?

Psych majors (AH,Alex M,Rebecca,ZY,Maddie) on projection?

Social science majors (Ashley,Roldine,Baibh,Nat) on the film’s representation of the (im)possibility of social and political change?

Visual Culture majors (Aline, JS, Melanie,Roisin) on the visuals?

Undeclared majors (Kalyn,lparrish,The Doctor,Sarah)…a wild card?


I like board work! Maybe we could meet in smaller groups and post as a group (for crowd control). Also, I think [I would like] in general more students talking and less professors talking.

I think at the end of each class we should a kind of “wrap up.” It would be nice to tie in together all the overlapping and refresh our understanding of what we’re trying to explore.


I’m still wondering how we take this out of the classroom and into the non-academic arenas. It would be nice in our class discussions if we took a step back and said “OK, what does this mean when we walk out of here at 4 pm?”

Rebecca on the fashion model fembot?

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