Books  |  ,   |  October 22, 2015

Imagining Slaves and Robots in Literature, Film, and Popular Culture: Reinventing Yesterday’s Slave with Tomorrow’s Robot

Book by Gregory Jerome Hampton.
Published by Lexington Books.
114 pages.

An interdisciplinary study that seeks to investigate and speculate about the relationship between technology and human nature. It is a timely and creative analysis of the ways in which we domesticate technology and the manner in which the history of slavery continues to be utilized in contemporary society. This text interrogates how the domestic slaves of the past are being re-imaged as domestic robots of the future. Hampton asserts that the rhetoric used to persuade an entire nation to become dependent on the institution of chattel slavery will be employed to promote the enslavement of technology in the form of humanoid robots with Artificial Intelligence. Imagining Slaves and Robots in Literature, Film, and Popular Culture makes the claim that science fiction, film, and popular culture have all been used to normalize the notion of robots in domestic spaces and relationships. In examining the similarities of human slaves and mechanical or biomechanical robots, this text seeks to gain a better understanding of how slaves are created and justified in the imaginations of a supposedly civilized nation. And in doing so, give pause to those who would disassociate America‚Äôs past from its imminent future.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction: Reading the Writing on the Wall
  • Racing Robots and Making Slaves: How the Past Informs the Future
  • Proslavery Thought and the Black Robot: Selling Household Appliances to Southern Belles
  • The True Cult of Humanhood: Displacing Repressed Sexuality onto Mechanical Bodies
  • The Tragic Mulatto and the Android: Imitations of Life in Literature and on the Silver Screen
  • AI (Artificial Identity): The New Negro
  • From Fritz Lang to Janelle Monae: Black Robots Singing and Dancing
  • Conclusion: When the Revolution Comes

About the Author

Gregory Hampton was associate professor of African-American literature and director of graduate studies in the Department of English at Howard University until his death in 2019.