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Lecture – “We Speak with Alexa’s Voice, and That is Uncanny”: Voice Interface, The Contemporary Gothic, and the Ghostly History of Sound (Julia Panko, Asst. Prof. of English at Weber State University)
February 10, 2020 @ 2:30 pm - 3:30 pm MST
Voice user interfaces, smart speakers, and digital voice assistants have quickly risen to prominence in the contemporary media ecology. While critiques of these technologies have centered on their erosion of privacy and reification of the surveillance society, the uncanniness of these disembodied voices also evokes longstanding anxieties about media, sound, and the supernatural. In this talk, Dr. Julia Panko analyzes voice interface technology through the critical lens of the Gothic, arguing that the centuries-old literary genre offers a useful framework for understanding these very new technologies. This presentation situates the Amazon Echo within a history of uncanny sound mediation and examines how contemporary Gothic narratives can illuminate the uncanniness of digital voice media.