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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Trashy Robots: Desire and Disposability in Patricia Yaeger’s “Luminous Trash: Throwaway Robots in Blade Runner, the Terminators, A.I., and Wall•E”


What does it mean for humans to desire human-like relationships with robots? What kind of sovereignty do we want to have over our trash? These two seemingly unrelated questions melded together exquisitely during Patricia Yaeger’s talk “Luminous Trash: Throwaway Robots in Blade Runner, the Terminators, A.I. and Wall•E.” Yaeger directed her audiences’ eyes towards robots as trash, and in doing so, linked together present and future possibilities for re-thinking automated relationships, technological power, and wasteful consumption. Yaeger, the Henry Simmons Frieze Collegiate Professor of English and Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan, spoke to an overflowing room about our fascination with robots and trash, both of whom—or of which, depending on your comfort level with anthropomorphizing non-human subjects—highlight tensions between our desires and their limits.

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