Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore

Aleksandra Pogońska-Baranowska | University of Warsaw | Poland


September 15th 2022 | 10.00 – 11.30
Panel #1 | “Techno/Digital Dystopias: debates and models
Room G.127 | Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore Milan, Largo Gemelli 1

Toward new models of existence. The representation of AI identities in the dystopian cultural texts of the 21st century

Fears about how robots might transform our lives have been a staple of science fiction for decades. The last twenty years, with advanced technological developments, have blurred clear division between science fiction and reality and provided contemporary writers with all manner of fears to expose and decry. Humanoid machines, made to look and act like us and to insinuate themselves deeply into our lives, threatened the fundamental aspects of human identity, understood as a crucial set of values and capacities we have developed over hundreds of thousands of years, and revealed the self-destructive potential of the supreme human ambition to transform Homo Sapiens to Homo Deus. The protection of humanity from the risks arising from his own power and audacity becomes one of the most fundamental objectives on the list of humanity in the XXI century, turning into one of the most recurrent themes of the dystopian visions of the new millennium, often called the golden age for dystopian fiction.
The paper is focused on profound analysis and comparison of representative contemporary dystopian cultural texts that reflects fears and anxieties experienced by the representants of contemporary societies. The interpretation of Machines Like Me (2019), the latest novel by Ian McEwan, will be followed by analysis of Be Right Back (2013), an episode of the British science fiction anthology series Black Mirror and Her (2013), an American film directed by Spike Jonze. The main case of the study will be focused on in-depth analysis of the subject, preceded by a taxonomic analysis and a short presentation of historical articulations of the problem.

Aleksandra Pogońska-Baranowska is a Doctoral student and teaching assistant in the Department of Italian studies at the University of Warsaw. Her scholarly concerns, based on the critical theory of contemporary literature and cinema, are focused on the evolution of dystopian genre between the 20th and the 21st century. She is the author of Immaginare il futuro: le narrazioni distopiche nell’Italia del terzo millennio published by Narrativa-nuova serie and co-author of Al passo col tempo: Lidia Ravera dal 1968 al 2018, published by Franco Cesati Editore. Her article La vecchiaia è una tragedia? Soluzioni distopiche appeared in the volume Il futuro della fine published by Peter Lang.