My book is here! Anatomy of a Robot!

My new book, Anatomy of a Robot: Literature, Cinema and the Cultural Work or Artificial People has just come out from Rutgers University Press. It is so exciting to see this project come to fruition and the book looks beautiful. Here is some more information about this project.

Anatomy of a Robot


Why do we find artificial people fascinating? Drawing from a rich fictional and cinematic tradition, Anatomy of a Robot explores the political and textual implications of our perennial projections of humanity onto figures such as robots, androids, cyborgs, and automata. In an engaging, sophisticated, and accessible presentation, Despina Kakoudaki argues that, in their narrative and cultural deployment, artificial people demarcate what it means to be human. They perform this function by offering us a non-human version of ourselves as a site of investigation. Artificial people teach us that being human, being a person or a self, is a constant process and often a matter of legal, philosophical, and political struggle.


By analyzing a wide range of literary texts and films, including the fiction of Philip K. Dick, Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel Never Let Me Go, Metropolis, The Golem, Frankenstein, The TerminatorBlade RunnerI, Robot, and the television series Battlestar Galactica, and going back to origin stories, to alchemy and to Aristotle’s Physics and De Anima, she tracks four foundational narrative elements in this centuries-old discourse— the fantasy of the artificial birth, the fantasy of the mechanical body, the tendency to represent artificial people as slaves, and the interpretation of artificiality as an existential trope.


What unifies these investigations is the return of all four elements to the question of what constitutes the human.This focused approach to the topic of the artificial, constructed, or mechanical person allows us to reconsider the creation of artificial life.  By focusing on their historical provenance and textual versatility, Kakoudaki elucidates artificial people’s main cultural function, which is the political and existential negotiation of what it means to be a person.


I am incredibly grateful to the two amazing readers that reviewed the manuscript. Here is what they had to say:

“Wide-ranging in its examples, erudite, politically relevant, and profound in its implications, this book is essential for anyone interested in our long history with created others.”

—Sherryl Vint, University of California, Riverside

Anatomy of a Robot offers an insightful analysis of the cultural work artificial people perform as they elucidate what it is to be human; a refreshing intervention in the field and impressive in its breadth.”

—Teresa Heffernan, Saint Mary’s University

Table Of Contents


Introduction: Robot Anatomies
1 The Artificial Birth
2 The Mechanical Body
3 The Mechanical Slave
4 The Existential Cyborg
Conclusion: The Ends of the Human

You can now order the book from Rutgers University Press through this link.

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Or you can order it from Amazon here.

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4 comments on “My book is here! Anatomy of a Robot!”

  1. Joachim Boaz

    This sounds great! Glad there’s a growing number of SF scholars out there! What was the strangest robot story you tackled for your research?

  2. dkakoudaki

    I love Asimov, but one of my favorite robot stories is Philip K. Dick’s “Impostor.” It is very creepy and surprising! Also, a really fabulous robot story is Clifford Simak’s “I’m Crying All Inside.” These are not your average robots!

  3. Joachim Boaz

    Yeah, I’ve read “Impostor.” Brilliant and disturbing….

    As for Simak, I’ve not read that one. I do love about 1/2 of his work (the rest annoys me to no end) — my favorite is Why Call Them Back From Heaven?? (1967) — but, there are no robots….

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