• Genre in Film and Literature

    131T | CCN: 24428

    Obscure Intelligences: Alien, Artificial, and Otherwise

    Instructor: IK Udekwu

    4 Units

    F 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM, Dwinelle 142 / Screening Wed. 2:00 – 5:00PM, Barrows 60 /// 

    This course will examine the growing subgenre of films and television centered on questions of nonhuman intelligence. Inflecting traditional tropes from more visceral horror and thriller subgenres, films like Blade Runner, Arrival, and Her render questions about humanness and otherness with respect to language, calculation, rationality, learning, and circuitry. The ways in which these works grapple with artificial intelligence, computation, and virtuality will be a primary provocation for this course – though issues of biology, embodiment, alienness, and desire will not be far behind. In particular, we will examine how these films imagine rationality within and between humans and nonhumans — both in close proximity and at scale — along with the futures (and pasts) that these narratives extrapolate from their figurations of intelligence.

    Readings (available in a course booklet) will include critical work on these films and intersecting genres, along with texts from science and technology studies and (brief) technical readings on artificial intelligence and cognition.

    Students should expect to write weekly informal discussion posts, approximately three more informal memos, a final paper proposal, and a final paper. In addition, groups of students will be asked to facilitate classroom discussion at least once during the semester.

    Possible media for screening and discussion include:

    Alien (1979)
    Arrival (2016)
    Blade Runner (1982)
    Her (2013)
    Metropolis (1927)
    Solaris (1972)
    Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
    Tron (1982)
    Westworld (2016)

    If you would like to enroll but have another course that conflicts with the scheduled group screening time on Wednesday afternoons, please contact the instructor for further information.