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Animating the Science Fiction Imagination$
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J.P. Telotte

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190695262

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190695262.001.0001

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Of Robots and Artificial Beings

Of Robots and Artificial Beings

(p.43) Chapter 3 Of Robots and Artificial Beings
Animating the Science Fiction Imagination

J.P. Telotte

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines animation’s fascination with the robot, a figure that has obvious reflexive links to animation’s typical anthropomorphic characters—the various mice, cats, dogs, and ducks that were the usual stars of early cartoons. The robot is also a figure that had an especially popular resonance throughout the pre-war period, as is evidenced by its appearance in a variety of popular culture venues, including vaudeville acts, World’s Fairs, and feature films. What makes this figure particularly significant in its ability to embody the culture’s conflicted attitudes toward science and technology—attitudes that were also being worked out within literary SF. The animated films, the chapter suggests, typically juxtapose the culture’s faith in a technological utopia, within which robots play a key role, with contemporary concerns about the relationship between technology and labor, thereby qualifying the modernist embrace of the technology.

Keywords:   robot, technology, Technocracy, World’s Fair, modernism, cartoon, Depression, labor, serials, utopia

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