Karel Čapek’s R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots), 1920-2021

Guide compiled by Ralph Dumain

Note: Čapek’s play R.U.R. which introduced the word ‘robot’ (attributed by Karel to his brother Josef) to the world, was published in 1920 and officially premiered on January 25, 1921. It was also arguably the first technological dystopia to appear after the conclusion of World War I, and a historic turning point in the perspective on the automaton in popular culture. Čapek followed up with socially critical novels based on science fiction premises, and returned to his original theme in his 1936 novel War with the Newts, this time substituting intelligent salamanders for robots. Even without the device of the robot, the issue of machines becoming more human-like and humans becoming more mechanical was a key theme of the 19th century as the industrial revolution peaked, and while technology has itself evolved in the past century, the issues as Čapek presented them are as fresh as ever. This bibliography is one step in my efforts to promote a centenary celebration of this landmark play. Indented paragraphs are quotations. More can be found on my bibliographical guide to Karel Čapek. — RD


Ásatrú and the Inevitability of Technology by Karl E. H. Seigfried, The Wild Hunt, March 23, 2024
Useful only for 3 photos of robots designed for the planned 1937 production of R.U.R. by the Federal Theatre Prpoject’s Theatre)

Prove You’re Not a Robot: On Karel Čapek’s “R.U.R.” by Jonathan Bolton, Los Angeles Review of Books, February 20, 2024

Robot: You Keep Using That Word But It Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means” by Maya Posch, Hackaday, January 24, 2024

A “robot” should be chemical, not steel, argues man who coined the word by Benj Edwards, Ars Technica, January 23, 2024

The Man Who Coined the Word “Robot” Defends Himself by Evan Ackerman & Karel Čapek, IEEE Spectrum, 16 January 2024

How a 20th-Century Czech Play Influences Our Understanding of Science and Humanity by Jitka Čejková, Literary Hub, January 16, 2024

Envisioning Artificial Intelligence by Ed Finn, Science, 11 January 2024, p. 156


Wellesley College Theatre Presents a New Adaptation of Science Fiction Play “R.U.R.”, Wellesley College News, December 5, 2023

Robots Revolt in Bridgewater State University’s Production of ‘RUR’ [audio], The Enterprise [Cape Cod], November 17, 2023

Prep School to stage robot masterwork – ‘R.U.R’ by by Dennis Dalman, The Newsleaders [St. Joseph], November 10, 2023

First Edition of Work Introducing the Word Robot to Auction, Fine Books & Collections, October 25, 2023

‘A Quick 5’ with Midshipman Washington Ross, Actor in ‘R.U.R. Rossum’s Universal Robots,’ presented by the US Naval Academy’s Masqueraders, by Susan Brallon, Maryland Theatre Guide, October 24, 2023

What the stories we tell about robots tell us about ourselves, by Constance Grady, Vox, Sept. 7, 2023

On this day in 1919: Karel Čapek's R.U.R. gets its first public reading, expats.cz, Sept. 5, 2023

Classic Czech play ‘R.U.R.’ to be adapted into new movie by ‘Dark City’ director Alex Proyas by Jason Pirodsky, The Prague Reporter, August 25, 2023.

Alex Proyas readies another virtual production feature with ‘R.U.R.’ by Sean Slatter, IF Magazine, August 23, 2023.

Film Commentary: “How I Learned to Start Worrying and Fear the Bot”; compiled by Ezra Haber Glenn, The Arts Fuse, July 17, 2023.

Why do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Unlocking the Power of Military Artificial Intelligence by Thom Hawkins and Troy Kelley, Modern War Institute, July 6, 2023

MCANA Announces Winner of 2023 Best Opera Award by David Salazar, Operawire, June 23, 2023

Actors’ Gang – Robot Uprising in R.U.R., Culver City Crossroads, June 22, 2023

Robot Makes Free: The Leibnizian cryptowar of Norbert Wiener” by Daniel Nemenyi, Radical Philosophy 2.14, April 2023, pp. 3-20.

Did the Ancient Greeks Warn Us About Robots? by Marialena Perpiraki, The Collector, April 29, 2023.

Barton Theatre stages sci-fi classic R.U.R. - Rossum’s Universal Robots, Great Bend Tribune, February 24, 2023.

Exploring the Russian Word ‘Robot’: Tracing its Origins by Happy Sharer, The Enlightened Mindset, January 12, 2023


Gamut Inc. to Take ‘RUR’ Opera to Köln by David Salazar, Operawire, November 30, 2022

The Best Robots In Science Fiction ‹ CrimeReads by Lavie Tidhar, November 8, 2022

MTU presents Robot101 events to celebrate over a century of robots by Colin Jackson, September 29, 2022

Michigan Tech is Celebrating 101 Years of Robots with Various Events During October - Keweenaw Report, September 28, 2022

R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots): Story of the Play (with audio), HackerNoon, August 3rd 2022

Review: R.U.R.: A TORRENT OF LIGHT at OCAD University by Ilana Lucas, Broadway World (Toronto), June 3, 2022

Prague’s Švanda Theatre to present play written by robot on a US tour by Ruth Fraňková, Radio Prague International (with sound file), 06/02/2022

‘I imagine in the future, sound permeates’: New opera ‘R.U.R. A Torrent of Light’ integrates technology into performance by Mike Doherty, Toronto Star, May 29, 2022

PREVIEW | Opera & Tech Explored In Tapestry Opera/OCAD Collaboration ‘R.U.R. A Torrent of Light’ by Anya Wassenberg, Ludwig van Toronto, May 17, 2022

Czech Ambassador joins 1st Bikol Book Festival, The Manila Times, May 2, 2022

Tapestry Opera & OCAD University Explore Technological Convergence in ‘R.U.R. A Tapestry of Light’ by Logan Martell, Operawire, April 6, 2022 [Actually, ‘Torrent’, not ‘Tapestry’]

TJCA Drama Club takes center stage by Melea Jones, Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy, March 25, 2022

Robot centenary – 100 years since ‘robot’ made its debut, by euRobotics AISBL, Robohub, 12 March 2022

101 years ago: origins of the word ‘robot’ by Brianna Wessling, The Robot Report, January 25, 2022

The Czech Play That Gave Us the Word ‘Robot’, Prague Morning, January 20, 2022.

Neither Comedy Nor Tragedy Can Truly Make R.U.R. Come To Life by Jessica Goldman, Houston Press, January 15, 2022


January 25, 1921 was the world premiere of R. U. R.

In Esperanto

Centjariĝoj de Stanislaw Lem & R.U.R. de Karel Čapek [32 min.], Prelego de Ralph Dumain en SAT-Kongreso, la 26-an de julio 2021 [video, in Esperanto: presentation by Ralph Dumain: Centennial of Stanislaw Lem’s birth & Karel Čapek’s R.U.R., Congress of the World Anationalist Association (Sennacieca Asocio Tutmonda), 26 July 2021]

In English

Do we add Robotpocalypse to the list of threats to humanity we created? by Besame, Daily Kos, December 26, 2021

Classical Theatre Company Presents R.U.R. by A.A. Cristi, Broadway World, Dec. 23, 2021

‘MOTHER/ANDROID’ Review – Chloë Grace Moretz Shines in an Otherwise Uneven Film by Michael Cook, Geek Vibes Nation, December 19, 2021

Mother/Android Isn’t Ready for Revolution by Noah Berlatsky, Splice Today, Dec. 16, 2021

100 years of robots: How technology – and our lives – have changed, Chicago Tribune, Dec. 15, 2021

Gina May Walter & Georg A. Bochow Lead World Premiere of Robot Opera ‘R.U.R.’ in Berlin by Dejan Vukosavljevic, Operawire, Nov. 25, 2021.

The 100-year-old fiction that predicted today by Dorian Lynskey, BBC, 2 September 2021. On Čapek and Zamyatin.

Portraying a robot on stage allows us to explore what it is to be human by Jacob Berkowitz, The Globe and Mail, August 28, 2021

The rise of robots, Manila Bulletin, May 8, 2021

Czech classic ‘R.U.R.’ published in Filipino (with sound recording), The Manila Times, May 3, 2021

Karel Čapek and Rogelio Sicat R.U.R Book Launching (Czech Embassy in Manila & Ateneo de Naga University Press, Philippines), video, 1 May 2021

Renowned Czech play that introduced word 'robot' translated into Filipino; Ateneo de Naga launch on May 1 by Roy Mabasa, Manila Bulletin, April 30, 2021

Celebrating Centennial Year of the Word “Robot”: Czech Classic “R.U.R.” Published in Filipino by By Jonna Genosas, Art Plus Magazine, April 29, 2021

THEAITRE | Can a robot write a theatre play? [LIVESTREAM 26 February 2021]

AI: WHEN A ROBOT WRITES A PLAY • on-line premiere [full performance & discussion available on YouTube through 1 March 2021]

Theaitre Facebook page

AI: When a Robot Writes a Play, plus the best of February’s online theatre & comedy by Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph, 27 February 2021

Prague theatre to stage play written by artificial intelligence, on 100th anniversary of Čapek’s R.U.R. by Ruth Fraňková & Michaela Vetešková, Radio Prague International (with sound file), 24 February 2021

5 Robots That Changed The World: The Iconic Forerunners Of The Tesla Bot by Phil Hall, Benzinga, August 22, 2021

Frolicsome Engines: The Long Prehistory of Artificial Intelligence by Jessica Riskin, The Wire, 2 August 2021

Genius on the Block: The foundations of the computing age go up for auction by Stephen Cass, IEEE Spectrum, 1 Jul 2005

LET'S REMINISCE: The rise of the robots by Jerry Lincecum, Paris News, May 18, 2021 (for subscribers only), also in HeraldDemocrat, May 20, 2021 (for subscribers only)

Robotic rebellion? One hundred years of love and hate for automatons, Explica, April 6, 2021

Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Machinehood by S.B. Divya, Locus, March 23, 2021

In Kazuo Ishiguro’s ‘Klara and the Sun,’ a robot tries to make sense of humanity by Ron Charles, The Washington Post (Book World), March 2, 2021. Republished in Borneo Bulletin, March 19, 2021 and The Spokesman Review, March 6, 2021.

Can artificial intelligence algorithms alone write a play? by Sophie Thomas, London Theatre, 17 February, 2021

100 years after the word was first used in a Czech play, a 'robot' will actually try to write one by Tom Lane, Expats.cz, 4 Jan. 2021

Celebrating 100 years of the ‘robot’: a new version of R.U.R. by 3Ai, 3A Institute, Blog by Ellen Broad, Charlotte Bradley and Genevieve Bell, January 20, 2021

Jaroslav Veis Guest Post–“Robot, the Most Famous Czech, Celebrates 100 Years”, Locus, February 2, 2021

Robots aren’t about to wipe out humans — well, maybe just their jobs by Gwynne Dyer, The Hamilton Spectator, Jan. 28, 2021. Republished as:

Are we ready for the first real automatons?, Bangkok Post, 30 January 2021
How automation will soon impact us all, The Jerusalem Post, 30 January 2021

Perspective: Happy Birthday, Robot!, David Gunkel's Perspective, Northern Public Radio, January 29, 2021

Robots got their name 100 years ago today by By David Szondy, New Atlas, January 25, 2021

On 100th Anniversary of 'Robot,' They're Finally Taking Over by Christopher Mims, Bangkok Post, January 25, 2021

The robot century by Simon Chesterman, The Straits Times, January 25, 2021

Czechia 2020-2021 — Global AI Narratives: Central and Eastern Europe

2. From Čapek to Lem: AI in Eastern European Science Fiction (15 January 2021)


The Word “Robot” Appeared in a Czech Play 100 Years Ago Today, Prague Morning, January 2, 2021

It [the word] was first used to mean an artificial humanoid in the stage play R.U.R. written in 1920 by Karel Čapek, which premiered on January 2, 1921, by the Unity of Klicper Theater Amateurs in Hradec Králové, and the official premiere was at the National Theater in Prague on January 25, 1921.  

100 years later, the dystopian origin of the word ‘robot’ still rings true by John M. Jordan, Quartz, January 23, 2021

Robots were dreamt up 100 years ago – why haven’t our fears about them changed since? by Michael Szollosy, The Conversation, January 22, 2021. Also at Madras Courier, January 25, 2021.

100 Years of Robots by Christopher Mims & Michael Bucher, The Wall Street Journal, January 22, 2021

“R.U.R” foreshadowed fears about artificial intelligence by B. T., The Economist, Jan. 22, 2021

Robots Turn 100—and Still Enthrall Us by Adam Kirsch, The Wall Street Journal, Jan. 16, 2021

We, Robot, The Indian Express, January 14, 2021

One hundred years since a hellish vision of technology spawned that fateful word: robot by Simon Lowe, The Guardian, January 10, 2021

Robot Wars: 100 years later, it’s time for Karel Čapek’s RUR to restart by Roberto Silman, Brinkwire, January 8, 2021

Robot wars: 100 years on, it's time to reboot Karel Čapek's RUR by Michael Billington, The Guardian, 7 January 2021

And Yet….I Have Never Read It! by Doctor Curmudgeon, January 26, 2021


Karel Čapek’s ‘robots’ at 100 – new exhibition highlights foreign productions of R.U.R., by Brian Kenety & Václav Müller, Radio Prague International, 09/29/2020 [with audio file]

Čapek and Robots at the Brno Technical Museum by Ines Ribas, BRNO Daily, December 9, 2020

THEAITRE | Can a robot write a theatre play?

Broadway ’Bots? Robots Are Writing a Play to Celebrate The 100th Anniversary of the Word ‘Robot’ by Jacob Oller, SyfyWire, Aug. 4, 2020

THEaiTRE: A theatre play written entirely by machines by Ingrid Fadelli , Tech Xplore, August 3, 2020

Celebrating 100 years of the ‘robot’: a new version of R.U.R. by 3Ai, 3A Institute, Blog by Ellen Broad, Charlotte Bradley and Genevieve Bell, March 6, 2020

Robots Really Don’t Explain It All for Us—But They Helpfully Try, Mind Matters News, December 13, 2020

Machines That Can Deny Their Maker (1997) by Rosalind W. Picard

Karel Čapek’s ‘The White Disease’: a pandemic of fascism [The Czech Books You Must Read (20)] by Brian Kenety, Radio Prague International, 12/09/2020, with audio & videos. Film:

 Bílá nemoc (The White Disease) | celý film | česká filmová klasika (1937).

Still Stuck at Home in Confinement? Watch this Prophetic Czech Film Based on Karel Čapek’s Play by Temir Asanov, Prague Morning, May 20, 2020

Arts Commentary: Pestilence on Stage, Part One — Karel Čapek’s “The White Plague” by Bill Marx, The Arts Fuse, April 1, 2020

“Robot”: A 100 Year Anniversary by Daniel Allen, DirectIndustry e-Magazine, August 19, 2020

The Word Robot Invented 100 Years Ago, by Sue Gee, i-programmer.info, 26 January 2020

In fact, Asimov’s [author of I, Robot] “Laws of Robotics” (which are discussed here) are explicitly designed to prevent the kind of situation depicted in R.U.R. as they impose a total inhibition against harming human beings or disobeying them.

‘Robot’ was coined 100 years ago, in a play predicting human extinction by android hands by Brian Heater, Tech Crunch, February 27, 2020

How the human race succumbed: two dystopias by Čapek by Laszlo Solymar, The Article, March 28, 2020

The virtues of travel writing and the work of Karel Čapek by Alan Riach, The National [Scotland] 7 September 2020 

Karel Čapek: Novelist, playwright – and travel writer, with Mirna Šolić, Radio Prague International (with sound file), 02/06/2020. See also book.

130th anniversary of birth of great interwar writer Karel Čapek by Ian Willoughby (with voice quotes from Ivan Klíma & Zdeněk Vacek, Radio Prague International (with sound file), 01/09/2020

War with the Newts: Karel Čapek’s prescient, dystopian magnum opus by Brian Kenety (with voice quotes from Robert Weschler), Radio Prague International (with sound file), 04/01/2020

Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Made to Order: Robots and Revolution, Edited by Jonathan Strahan, Locus,  May 1, 2020 [Made to Order: Robots and Revolution, Jonathan Strahan, ed. (Solaris 978-1781087879, $11.99, 400pp, tp) March 2020.]

Anthologies about robots may be nearly as important in SF history as individual novels and stories, from one of the earliest, Groff Conklin’s 1954 Science-Fiction Thinking Machines (which included Capek’s play, probably presented for the first time in the context of genre SF) to the more recent and playful (such as Dominik Parisien & Navah Wolfe’s Robots vs. Fairies a year or so ago).

Slavery, the “robot,” and Orientalism in science fiction by Ibrahim Al Marashi, TRT World, 26 June 2020

The Short, Strange Life of the First Friendly Robot by Yulia Frumer, IEEE Spectrum, 21 May 2020

The Guardian's 'scary' new robot author didn't know the word 'robot' originates from Czech by Jason Pirodsky,  Expats.cz, 9/9/20

From manufacturing to something better. Industry 4.0 could redefine Slovakia, by Peter Dlhopolec, The Slovak Spectator, 26 June 2020

Prosthetic Personhood in R.U.R. by Lisa Swanstrom, Science Fiction Studies, no. 140 (vol. 47, no. 1), March 2020

Is the future of robots in good hands? by Chris Middleton, Diginomica, January 21, 2020

The future is sci-fi: On Philip K Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, AI and artificial empathy by Prahlad Srihari, Firstpost, January 06, 2020


The Birth of the Modern Robot by Sharon Lin, Hackaday, December 19, 2019

Robots of Ages Past by Robert W. Lebling, AramcoWorld, November/December 2019

Čapek's seminal play, R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots) [World's first sci fi TY program], Europa SF 2019: The European Speculative Fiction Portal

R.U.R. & Related Web Pages

R.U.R. - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots), translated by David Wyllie

R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots) (2014-09-16), Librivox: sound recording

RUR (Rossum's Universal Robots), Jerz’s Literacy Weblog

Mutual Inspirations Festival 2015 - Karel Čapek (Embassy of the Czech Republic, Washington, DC)

Some Older Theatrical Performances & Adaptations

Sci Fi Bytes: And the First Sci Fi TV Series Was . . . by johnnyjay, Cancelled Sci Fi, August 26, 2020 [Karel Čapek’s R.U.R.]

Save the Robots

RUR - A Retro-Futuristic Cabaret Musical (4:54)

RUR Embassy: Selected Excerpts from Reading of R.U.R. Robots vs Man as a Retro-Futuristic Musical based on Karel Capek’s play at the Czech Embassy September 2015 by The Alliance for New Music-Theatre [24:19]

Video / Film

Bílá nemoc (The White Disease) | celý film | česká filmová klasika (1937), in Czech with English subtitles (1 hr., 44 min.).

Loss Of Sensation (1935), film, in Russian with English subtitles (1 hr., 26 min.).

Der Herr Der Welt (Master of the World) (1934) [this clip 4 min., 25 sec.], German film (90 min.).

Master of the World (1934 film) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Webinars / Lectures / Symposia

Sascha Freyberg, "Political Epistemology of New Robotics," 6 April 2021.

The 18th Century Automaton

Jacques de Vaucanson - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jacques de Vaucanson

This Month in Physics History: February 11, 1738: Jacques de Vaucanson Exhibits Flute-playing Automaton

Jacques de Vaucanson: The Father of Simulation by Michael E. Moran

Restauration des automates de Pierre et Henri Louis Jaquet Droz

The Musician from Jaquet-Droz

Joueuse de Tympanon - automate

la joueuse de tympanon

Museum of Automata, York, 199x

Robots in Music

Yusef Lateef - Robot Man

Supplementary Bibliography

Ambros, Veronika. “America Relocated: Karel Čapek’s Robots between Prague, Berlin, and New York,” in Performance, Exile and ‘America’, edited by Silvija Jestrovic and Yana Meerzon (Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire, England: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), pp. 134-157.

Ambros, Veronika. “Golems and Robots: Intermediality, Hybridity and the Prague School,” in Structuralism(s) Today: Paris, Prague, Tartu, edited by Veronika Ambros et al (New York: Legas, 2009), pp. 176-189. Contents.

Ambros, Veronika. “How Did the Golems (and Robots) Enter Stage and Screen and Leave Prague?”, in History of the Literary Cultures of East-Central Europe: Junctures and Disjunctures in the 19th and 20th Centuries. Vol. IV: Types and Stereotypes, edited by Marcel Cornis-Pope and John Neubauer (Amsterdam; Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2010), pp. 308-320.

Anger, Suzy; Vranken, Thomas; eds. Victorian Automata: Mechanism and Agency in the Nineteenth Century. Cambridge University Press, 2024.

Anzalone, John, ed. Jeering Dreamers: Essays on L’Eve future at Our Fin de Siècle: a Collection of Essays, preface by Alan Raitt. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1996.

Atanasoski, Neda; Vora, Kalindi. Surrogate Humanity: Race, Robots, and the Politics of Technological Futures. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2019.

Asimov, Isaac. “The Vocabulary of SF” [Asimov's Editorials], Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, September 1979; reprinted as “The Vocabulary of Science Fiction,” in  Asimov on Science Fiction (Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, 1981).

Čapek’s play is, in my own opinion, a terribly bad one, but it is immortal for that one word. It contributed the word ‘robot’ not only to English but, through English, to all the languages in which science fiction is now written.

Barzilai, Maya. Golem: Modern Wars and Their Monsters. New York: New York University Press, 2016.

Bierce, Ambrose. Moxon’s Master (Library of America: Story of the Week).

Butler, Samuel. “Darwin Among the Machines” [To the Editor of the Press, Christchurch, New Zealand, 13 June, 1863].

Darwin among the Machines - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Čapek, Josef & Karel. “System” [orig. 1908], translated by William E. Harkins, in Masterpieces of Science Fiction, edited by Sam Moskowitz (Cleveland; New York: The World Publishing Company, 1966), pp. 420-427.

Story of a technocratic dystopia.

Čapek, Karel. The Author of the Robots Defends Himself, Science Fiction Studies, #68 (Volume 23, Part 1), March 1996.

Čapek, Karel. Karel Čapek’s R.U.R. and the Vision of Artificial Life, translated by Štěpán Šimek, edited by Jitka Čejková. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2024. New translation & scholarly essays.

Čapek, Karel; Čupová, Kateřina. R. U. R. Argo Publishers, 2020. Graphic novel adaptation, in Czech.

Cave, Stephen, Dihal, Kanta; Dillon, Sarah; eds. AI Narratives: A History of Imaginative Thinking about Intelligent Machines. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020. DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198846666.001.0001

Part I Antiquity to Modernity
1 Homer's Intelligent Machines
2 Demons and Devices
3 The Android of Albertus Magnus
4 Artificial Slaves in the Renaissance and the Dangers of Independent Innovation
5 Making the Automaton Speak
6 Victorian Fictions of Computational Creativity
7 Machines Like Us? Modernism and the Question of the Robot
Part II Modern and Contemporary
8 Enslaved Minds
9 Machine Visions
10 'A Push-Button Type of Thinking'
11 Artificial Intelligence and the Parent-Child Narrative
12 AI and Cyberpunk Networks
13 AI: Artificial Immortality and Narratives of Mind Uploading
14 Artificial Intelligence and the Sovereign-Governance Game
15 The Measure of a Woman
16 The Fall and Rise of AI

Chanan, Michael. “Artificial Stupidity: On the Alienation of Intelligence,Free Associations: Psychoanalysis and Culture, Media, Groups, Politics, Number 88, Spring 2023.

Chikaraishi, Takenobu; Yoshikawa, Yuichiro; Ogawa, Kohei; Hirata, Oriza; Ishiguro, Hiroshi. 2017. "Creation and Staging of Android Theatre “Sayonara” towards Developing Highly Human-Like Robots," Future Internet 9, no. 4: 75.

Christopher, David. Stalin’s “Loss of Sensation”: Subversive Impulses in Soviet Science-Fiction of the Great Terror, MOSF Journal of Science Fiction, Volume 1, Issue 2, May 2016, pp. 18-35.

Loss Of Sensation (1935), film, in Russian with English subtitles (1 hr, 26 min.).

Cohen, John. Human Robots in Myth and Science. London: Allen & Unwin, 1966.

Contrada, Norma. “Golem and Robot: A Search for Connections,” Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts, vol. 7, no. 2/3 (26/27), 1995, pp. 244-254. (Special Issue on The Golem—Rabbi Loew and His Legacy: The Golem in Literature and Film)

Demson, Michael; Clason, Christopher R.; eds. Romantic Automata: Exhibitions, Figures, Organisms. Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell University Press, 2020.

List of Illustrations
Notes on Contributors and Co-editors
       Michael Demson and Christopher R. Clason
Section I: Exhibitions
   1. The Uncanny Valley: E. T. A. Hoffmann, Sigmund Freud, Masahiro Mori
        Frederick Burwick
    2. The (Re-)Winding of Hoffmann’s Automata: from Offenbach’s 1881 Opera to Powell and Pressburger’s 1951 Film
         Ashley Shams
    3. Wounded Bodies in the Lithographs of Théodore Géricault, 1818-1820
        Peter Erickson
Section II: Figures
   4. Romantic Tales of Pseudo Automata: The Chess-Playing Turk in Hoffmann, Poe, and Benjamin
         Wendy Nielsen
    5. On Toys, Violence, and Automated Gender
         Erin Goss
    6. Automatic for All: Mary Shelley’s Posthuman Passion
         Kate Singer
    7. “A little earthly idol to contract your ideas”: Global Hermeneutics in Phebe Gibbes’s Zoriada, or, Village Annals (1786)
         Kathryn Freeman
Section III: Organisms
   8. Schelling’s Uncanny Organism
         Stefani Engelstein
    9. “it […] lives by dying”: S. T. Coleridge’s Mechanical Life and Colonial Necropolitics
         Lenora Hanson
    10. The Metaphysical Machinery of Mining in Novalis’s Works
         Christina M. Weiler

Dyer-Witheford, Nick; Kjøsen, Atle Mikkola; Steinhoff, James. Inhuman Power: Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Capitalism. London: Pluto Press, 2019.

Engster, Frank; Moore, Phoebe. “The search for (artificial) intelligence, in capitalism,” Capital & Class, Volume 44, Issue 2, June 2020 (Special Issue: Machines and Measure), pp. 201-218. Contents.

Gelbin, Cathy S. The Golem Returns: From German Romantic Literature to Global Jewish Culture, 1808-2008. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 2011.

Goldberg, Ken. Adam, Golem, Robot. Based on a talk presented by Ken Goldberg, 1993, with a follow-up conversation between Ken Goldberg and Ovid Jacob, 1995.

Grillo, Francesco. Hero of Alexandria’s Automata: a critical edition and translation, including a commentary on Book One. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow, 2019..

Hampton, Gregory Jerome. Imagining Slaves and Robots in Literature, Film, and Popular Culture: Reinventing Yesterday’s Slave with Tomorrow’s Robot. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2015.

Hirt, Katherine. When Machines Play Chopin: Musical Spirit and Automation in Nineteenth-Century German Literature. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2010.

Hoffmann, E. T. A. "Automata" (1814), translated by Major Alexander Ewing, in The Best Tales of E. T. A. Hoffman, edited with an introduction by E. F. Bleiler (New York: Dover Publications, 1967), pp. 71-103. See also Wikipedia.

Hoffmann, E. T. A. "The Sand-Man" (1816/1817), translated by J. T. Bealby, in The Best Tales of E. T. A. Hoffman, edited with an introduction by E. F. Bleiler (New York: Dover Publications, 1967), pp. 183-214. The revelation comes on p. 210. See also Wikipedia and translation by John Oxenford.

Hyman, Wendy Beth. The Automaton in English Renaissance Literature. Farnham, UK; Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2011.

Jean Paul [Johann Richter, 1763-1825]. Jean Paul: A Reader, edited, with an introductory essay and commentary, by Timothy J. Casey; translations by Erika Casey. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992. Writings unrelated to automata.

Jean Paul. [Satires on automata, all in German.] See also Voskuhl, below, chapter 5.

Menschen sind Maschinen der Engel” [“Humans Are Machines of the Angels”] (1785), Werke, vol. 2, part 1, edited by Norbert Miller and Wilhelm Schmidt-Biggemann (Munich: Carl Hanser, 1976); and in Sämmtliche Werke II/1 (1996), pp. 1028–31.

In Auswahl aus des Teufels Papieren [Teufelspapiere] (1789) and in Werke, vol. 2, part 2:

[“The Machine-Man and His Properties”]
[“Simple but Well-Disposed Biography of a New, Pleasant Woman Made of Pure Wood Whom I Invented and Have Married Long Since”]
[“Most Humble Introduction of Us, of All Players and Talking Women in Europe, against the Establishment of von Kempelen’s Playing and Speaking Machines”]

[“Personal Data on the Servant and Machine-Man,”] in Palingenesien (Leipzig, 1798).

Jones-Imhotep, Edward. “The ghost factories: histories of automata and artificial life,” History and Technology, volume 36, Issue 1, 2020, pp. 3-29.

Jordan, John. Robots. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2016.

Kakoudaki, Despina. Anatomy of a Robot: Literature, Cinema, and the Cultural Work of Artificial People. New Brunswick, NJ; London: Rutgers University Press, 2014.

Kang, Minsoo. “Building the Sex Machine: The Subversive Potential of the Female Robot,” Intertexts, vol. 9, no. 1, Spring 2005, pp. 5-22.

Koetsier, Teun. The Ascent of GIM, the Global Intelligent Machine: A History of Production and Information Machines. Cham: Springer International Publishing, Springer, 2019. For Čapek, see chapter 12.2.

Kang, Minsoo. Sublime Dreams of Living Machines: The Automaton in the European Imagination. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011.

Kinyon, Kamila. “The Phenomenology of Robots: Confrontations with Death in Karel Čapek’s R.U.R.,” Science Fiction Studies, #79 (Volume 26, Part 3), November 1999.

Levin, Susan B. Posthuman Bliss? The Failed Promise of Transhumanism. New York: Oxford University Press, 2021.

Liu, Lydia H. The Freudian Robot: Digital Media and the Future of the Unconscious. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010.

March-Russell, Paul. “Machines Like Us? Modernism and the Question of the Robot,” in AI Narratives: A History of Imaginative Thinking about Intelligent Machines, edited by Stephen Cave, Kanta Dihal, and Sarah Dillon (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020), pp. 165-186.

On technophobia based on fears of mechanization of humans, especially in the wake of Čapek’s R.U.R. Joyce is mentioned only in passing. Three phases of literary responses are detailed: (1) Consciousness and the Technological Imaginary (Z0la, Albert Robida); (2) Proto-Modernist Representations of Mechanical Intelligence (Samuel Butler, H. G. Wells); (3) Modernism and Robot Consciousness (E. M. Forster, Raymond Roussel, Villiers de l’Isle Adam, Karel Čapek).

Morus, Iwan Rhys, ed. Bodies/Machines. Oxford; New York: Berg, 2002.

Mukařovský, Jan. “K. Čapek’s Prose as Lyrical Melody and as Dialogue,” in: A Prague School Reader on Esthetics, Literary Structure, and Style, selected and translated from Czech by Paul L. Garvin (Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 1964), pp. 133–149.

O’Shea, Lizzie. Future Histories: What Ada Lovelace, Tom Paine, and the Paris Commune Can Teach Us about Digital Technology. London; New York: Verso, 2019.

Peck, Michael. “On the Literature of Cyborgs, Robots, and Other Automata: From Mechanical Ducks to Mythic Metal Giants,” Literary Hub, April 21, 2016.

Pickover, Clifford A. Artificial Intelligence: an Illustrated History: from Medieval Robots to Neural Networks. New York: Sterling, 2019.

Quinn, Erika; Yanacek, Holly; eds. Animals, Machines, and AI: On Human and Non-Human Emotions in Modern German Cultural History. Boston: De Gruyter, 2022. See:

Madalina Meirosu, “Mechanical Feelings: Artificial Bodies and Human Emotions in E. T. A. Hoffmann’s “The Automata” (1814),” pp. 33-56.

Erika Quinn, “Robots, Machines, and Humanity: The Affective World of Metropolis (1925),” pp. 139-165.

Claudia Mueller-Greene, ʽ“Penetrating the Innermost Heart”: Emotion, Music, and the Psychical Power of Machines in E. T. A. Hoffmann’s “The Automata” (1814),ʼ pp. 169-194.

Holly Yanacek, “Benevolent Bots: Human-Robot Friendship and Empathy in German Children’s Literature,” pp. 219-240.

Ramírez, J. Jesse. “Marx vs. the Robots,” Amerikastudien/American Studies,” Volume 62, Issue 4, 2017, pp. 619-632.

Reilly, Kara. Automata and Mimesis on the Stage of Theatre History. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire; New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.

Riskin, Jessica. The Restless Clock: A History of the Centuries-Long Argument Over What Makes Living Things Tick. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2016.

Riskin, Jessica. Frolicsome Engines: The Long Prehistory of Artificial Intelligence, The Public Domain Review, May 4, 2016.

Riskin, Jessica, ed. Genesis Redux: Essays in the History and Philosophy of Artificial Life. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007.

List of Contributors ix
List of Illustrations xiii
Acknowledgments xvii
1 Introduction: The Sistine Gap / Jessica Riskin 1
ONE Connections
2 The Imitation of Life in Ancient Greek Philosophy / Sylvia Berryman 35
3 The Devil as Automaton: Giovanni Fontana and the Meanings of a Fifteenth-Century Machine / Anthony Grafton 46
4 Infinite Gesture: Automata and the Emotions in Descartes and Shakespeare / Scott Maisano 63
5 Abstracting from the Soul: The Mechanics of Locomotion / Dennis Deschene 85
6 The Anatomy of Artificial Life: An Eighteenth-Century Perspective / Joan B. Landes 96
TWO Emergence
7 The Homunculus and the Mandrake: Art Aiding Nature versus Art Faking Nature / William R. Newman 119
8 Sex Ratio Theory, Ancient and Modern: An Eighteenth-Century Debate about Intelligent Design and the Development of Models in Evolutionary Biology / Elliott Sober 131
9 The Gender of Automata in Victorian Britain / M. Norton Wise 163
10 Techno-Humanism: Requiem for the Cyborg / Timothy Lenoir 196
11 Nanobots and Nanotubes: Two Alternative Biomimetic Paradigms of Nanotechnology / Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent 221
12 Creating Insight: Gestalt Theory and the Early Computer / David Bates 237
THREE Interactions
13 Perpetual Devotion: A Sixteenth-Century Machine That Prays / Elizabeth King 263
14 Motions and Passions: Music-Playing Women Automata and the Culture of Affect in Late Eighteenth-Century Germany / Adelheid Voskuhl 293
15 An Archaeology of Artificial Life, Underwater / Stefan Helmreich 321
16 Booting Up Baby / Evelyn Fox Keller 334
17 Body Language: Lessons from the Near-Human / Justine Cassell 346
Index 375

Santis, Pablo de. Voltaire’s Calligrapher: a Novel, translated by Lisa Carter. New York: Harper Perennial, 2010. (Original Spanish publication, 2001.) See also the publisher’s page with sample (chapters 1-3). See also:

Voltaire’s Calligrapher & the automatons, with commentary by R. Dumain.

Schäfer, Wolf. "Stranded at the Crossroads of Dehumanization: John Desmond Bernal and Max Horkheimer," in On Max Horkheimer: New Perspectives, edited by Seyla Benhabib, Wolfgang Bonß, and John McCole (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1993) pp. 153-183.

Segel, Harold B. Pinocchio’s Progeny: Puppets, Marionettes, Automatons and Robots in Modernist and Avant-Garde Drama. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995.

See esp. chapter 10: From Puppet to Robot: The Brothers Čapek, pp. 297-310.

Soderstrom, Mark. "Speculating a Better Future," Jacobin, March 2016.

Stillman, Linda Klieger. “Machinations of Celibacy and Desire,” L’Esprit Créateur , Winter 1984, Vol. 24, No. 4, Alfred Jarry (Winter 1984), pp. 20-35.

Strätz, Juliane. “The Ordeal of Labor and the Birth of Robot Fiction,” Amerikastudien/American Studies,” Volume 62, Issue 4, 2017, pp. 633 - 648.

Supermale Accelerationism” by ‘Benjamin’, No Useless Leniency (blog), 22 May 2014.

Telotte, J. P. Robot Ecology and the Science Fiction Film. New York: Routledge, 2016.

Tresch, John. The Romantic Machine: Utopian Science and Technology after Napoleon. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012.

Villiers de I’Isle-Adam, Auguste. Tomorrow’s Eve [L’Ève future], translated by Robert Martin Adams. Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2001.

The Future Eve - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Voskuhl, Adelheid. Androids in the Enlightenment: Mechanics, Artisans, and Cultures of the Self. Chicago; London: The University of Chicago Press, 2013.

Human-Machine Boundaries in the Enlightenment and Beyond, Lecture at German Historical Institute, Washington, DC, Feb 27, 2020. 1st of GHI Spring Lecture Series “'The spirits that I called': Artificial Life from the Enlightenment to the Present” (2020-2021).

West-Knights, Imogen. “Kings and Machines: Game of Thrones Star's Daring Transhuman Adventure,” The Guardian, 23 September 2020.

“Stage show adapted from a book, Mark O’Connell tells us in his 2018 Wellcome prize-winning book To Be a Machine, an exploration of transhumanism.”

Laity, Paul. To Be a Machine by Mark O'Connell review - solving the problem of death, The Guardian, 23 March 2017.

Wiener, Norbert. Prologue: Rossum’s Universal Robots, by Karel Çapek, 1950 [for MIT dramashop performance]. MIT Archives, Box 29B, Folder 657.

Paul W. Mandel, ‘Cabbages & Kings: Deus Ex Machina’, The Harvard Crimson, May 10, 1950.

Wijeratne, Yudhanjaya. Future Tense: “The State Machine”; Slate, September 26, 2020.

“A new short story imagines a government run entirely by machines.”

Divya, S. B. “Under the Gaze of Big Mother,” Slate, September 26, 2020.

‘Yudhanjaya Wijeratne’s “The State Machine” shows the danger of trusting machines to be free of bias.’

Winterson, Jeanette. Frankissstein: A Love Story. New York: Grove Press, 2019.

On this site

System” [orig. 1908] by Josef & Karel Čapek

Karl Marx on the Hegelian automaton: mechanism = teleology

Karl Marx on automatons, machinery, capital & labor

Marx to Engels, 28 January 1863 (Letter on the origin of mechanized industry)

Ralph Dumain: Antaŭparolo al Karlo Markso: La tiel nomata Fragmento pri maŝinoj (elgermanigita de Vilhelmo Lutermano) [in Esperanto]

Maŝinaro kaj granda industrio (Ĉerpaĵoj ) de Karlo Markso, trad. V. Lutermano [in Esperanto]

The Ascent of GIM, the Global Intelligent Machine (Contents +) by Teun Koetsier

Peter Swirski & artificial intelligence: the last gasp of bourgeois reason by Ralph Dumain

Robots in Finnegans Wake?

The Robot / El Robot by Roberto Bolaño

Leibniz’s monadological automaton (Selections from the Monadology)

Voltaire’s Calligrapher & the automatons, with commentary by R. Dumain

Der Golem” (1847) [in German] by Leopold Weisel, with bibliography & links

Karel Čapek: Selected Bibliography & Web Links

Karel Čapek en Esperanto

James Joyce & Technology, Vitalism, Robots, Artificial Intelligence, Cyberculture & Combinatorics:
A Bibliographic Pathway

Frigyes & Ferenc Karinthy in English

Leibniz & Ideology: Selected Bibliography

Ars Combinatoria Study Guide

Cybernetics & Artificial Intelligence: Ideology Critique

Big Data, Big Brother, & Algorithmic Tyranny: A Guide to Analysis & Fightback

Frankenstein at 200: A Very Selective Bibliographic & Web Guide

Science Fiction & Utopia Research Resources: A Selective Work in Progress

Positivism vs Life Philosophy (Lebensphilosophie) Study Guide

Studies in a Dying Culture radio program / podcast series (5/10/10 - ) by R. Dumain: See programs:

11/18/17 Dialectic and Dystopia: A Century Before and After the Russian Revolution Through Literature (transcript)
05/07/16 Frigyes Karinthy: the Hungarian Swift & his musical robots
05/06/12 The Utopian Vision of Sándor Szathmári
05/06/14 Science Fiction, Utopia, and the End of Imagination (1)

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