Maillardet Automaton and The Invention of Hugo Cabret

I have not yet had a chance to see Martin Scorsese’s Hugo or read the book that it is based on, the Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. However, I do want to see the film, because I am fascinated by automatons, the forebears of robots. The New York Times has an article about the inspiration of Hugo here: Maillardet Automaton Inspired Martin Scorsese’s Film ‘Hugo’.

I am a professor of English at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY whose teaching includes composition and technical communication, and research focuses on 20th/21st-century American culture, science fiction, neuroscience, and digital technology.

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One comment on “Maillardet Automaton and The Invention of Hugo Cabret
  1. Chris McCracken says:

    Hi, Jason. This is Chris McCracken. I’ve attended one of your workshops on multimodal assessment, and I’m technically (I guess) in the Neurosciences/Humanities reading group (though I wasn’t able to make it to any of the meetings this past semester (I’ll be sure to make it to any future ones, though)).

    Any-who: I enjoy reading your blog. I’ve yet to see Hugo, too, but it’s at the top of my to-do list. Your post brought this to mind: and I’d wondered if you’d heard about Vaucanson’s “Digesting Duck.” It’s a really cool piece of automaton-history that says a lot about people at the height of the automaton craze. Good, interesting stuff.

    Also, since you’re a science fiction/robots fan, I was wondering if you’d read any Karel Capek. He was an early 20th-century Czech writer who’s best known for his play R.U.R., in which he coined the term “robot.” I don’t read much sci-fi, but Capek is one of my all-time favorites. Highly recommended.

    Hopefully I’ll see you around campus and/or at one of the reading group meetings.

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Who is Dynamic Subspace?

Dr. Jason W. Ellis shares his interdisciplinary research and pedagogy on Its focus includes the exploration of science, technology, and cultural issues through science fiction and neuroscientific approaches. It includes vintage computing, LEGO, and other wonderful things, too.

He is an Assistant Professor of English at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY (City Tech) where he teaches college writing, technical communication, and science fiction.

He holds a Ph.D. in English from Kent State University, M.A. in Science Fiction Studies from the University of Liverpool, and B.S. in Science, Technology, and Culture from Georgia Tech.

Reach him by email at jellis at citytech dot cuny dot edu.


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