Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore

Manuela Ceretta | Università di Torino | Italy 


September 16th 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

Surveillance, dominion, submission: from technological dystopias to digital dystopias

Technology has played a crucial role in shaping dystopian imaginaries. Reflecting distrust of the human capacity to dominate its own creations, emblematic of the risk that beneath every scientist lurks a potential sorcerer's apprentice and behind every utopian dream there lurks a dr. Frankenstein’s Creature, fears of technological drift have been at the heart of dystopian fiction over the past two centuries. From H.G. Wells to Aldous Huxley, from Karin Boye to George Orwell, the struggle of human beings against invasive, threatening and potentially lethal technology has been portrayed as a titanic struggle for the conquest of truth and freedom. Contemporary digital dystopias partly escape this dichotomous paradigm. In fact, digital dystopias describe imaginaries sculpted by advanced and persuasive forms of technology, punctuated by nudges and processes of gamification, which exploit our socialization needs and our frailties through in-depth psychological, computer and commercial research, developing user-friendly apps and games that require our active participation and, to some extent, our complicity in those techniques of control and domination. We are facing a paradigm shift that deserves to be taken into consideration. 

Manuela Ceretta is Full Professor of History of political thought at Turin University. Her research interests focus on dystopian tradition and particularly on the relationship between power, domination and voluntary submission. She edited two collections of essays on George Orwell (2007) and Aldous Huxley (2019) and she published several peer-reviewed articles like: Sulla distopia (2012); Esorcizzare la paura, invocare le paure: utopia e distopia di fronte a una passione antica (2016); Non è un paese per bambini? Cenni su alcune recenti trasformazioni della letteratura distopica (2018); Immaginario distopico e crisi europea (2022).