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My Mother Was a Computer: Digital Subjects and Literary Texts


My Mother Was a Computer: Digital Subjects and Literary Texts Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

We live in a world, according to N. Katherine Hayles, where new languages are constantly emerging, proliferating, and fading into obsolescence. These are languages of our own making: the programming languages written in code for the intelligent machines we call computers. Hayles's latest exploration provides an exciting new way of understanding the relations between code and language and considers how their interactions have affected creative, technological, and artistic practices.

My Mother Was a Computer explores how the impact of code on everyday life has become comparable to that of speech and writing: language and code have grown more entangled, the lines that once separated humans from machines, analog from digital, and old technologies from new ones have become blurred. My Mother Was a Computer gives us the tools necessary to make sense of these complex relationships. Hayles argues that we live in an age of intermediation that challenges our ideas about language, subjectivity, literary objects, and textuality. This process of intermediation takes place where digital media interact with cultural practices associated with older media, and here Hayles sharply portrays such interactions: how code differs from speech; how electronic text differs from print; the effects of digital media on the idea of the self; the effects of digitality on printed books; our conceptions of computers as living beings; the possibility that human consciousness itself might be computational; and the subjective cosmology wherein humans see the universe through the lens of their own digital age.

We are the children of computers in more than one sense, and no critic has done more than N. Katherine Hayles to explain how these technologies define us and our culture. Heady and provocative, My Mother Was a Computer will be judged as her best work yet.


We are the children of computers in more ways than one.

About the Author

N. Katherine Hayles is the John Charles Hillis Professor of Literature at the University of California, Los Angeles. She is the author of three books, including How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics, and the editor of Chaos and Order: Complex Dynamics in Literature and Science, both published by the University of Chicago Press.

Table of Contents


Prologue: Computing Kin

Part I. Making: Language and Code

1. Intermediation: Textuality and the Regime of Computation

2. Speech, Writing, Code: Three Worldviews

3. The Dream of Information: Escape and Constraint in the Bodies of Three Fictions

Part II. Storing: Print and Etext

4. Translating Media

5. Performative Code and Figurative

Product Details

Hayles, N. Katherine
University of Chicago Press
American - General
American literature
Virtual Reality
Artificial Intelligence - General
Intelligence (AI) & Semantics
American literature -- 20th century.
Computers-Reference - General
Edition Description:
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
3 line drawings
9 x 6 in

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Related Subjects

Computers and Internet » Artificial Intelligence » General
Computers and Internet » Artificial Intelligence » Robotics
Computers and Internet » Computers Reference » General
Humanities » Literary Criticism » General
Reference » Science Reference » General

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"Synopsis" by , We are the children of computers in more ways than one.
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