Despina Kakoudaki is an associate professor in the department of Literature at American University in Washington DC. She teaches interdisciplinary courses in literature and film, visual culture, and the history of technology and new media. Her interests include cultural studies, science fiction, apocalyptic narratives, and the representation of race and gender in literature and film.
She completed her doctorate in Comparative Literature at the University of California at Berkeley, and taught at Berkeley and at Harvard University before joining American University. She has published articles on robots and cyborgs, race and melodrama in action and disaster films, body transformation and technology in early film, the political role of the pin-up in World War II, and the representation of the archive in postmodern fiction.
As part of her ongoing research on narrative and melodrama, she co-edited All About Almodovar: A Passion for Cinema, a collection of essays on the work of Pedro Almodovar with Brad Epps (University of Minnesota Press, 2009). The volume includes a co-authored Introduction, and her own essay on melodrama and coincidence in Almodovar’s film Talk to Her (2002).
Professor Kakoudaki’s new book, titled Anatomy of a Robot: Literature, Cinema, and the Cultural Work of Artificial People, was published by Rutgers University Press in 2014. She received a fellowship from the National Endowment for this project, which traces the history and cultural function of constructed people and animated objects in literature and film.
In 2014 Despina Kakoudaki was appointed Director of the Humanities Lab, a new research initiative at American University. Working across departments and schools, the Humanities Lab aims to support and showcase interdisciplinary research and support scholarly collaboration at American University and beyond.
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