MA Morgane Ghilardi


Biographical Note

Morgane A. Ghilardi s a Research and Teaching Assistant to Prof. Dr. Elisabeth Bronfen. She holds a BA in English Literature and Linguistics, Hermeneutics, and Film Studies as well as a MA in Gender Studies and English Literature from the University of Zurich. In 2016, she completed her MA thesis titled Do Androids Dream of Sex? Gender, Desire, and Power in the Representation of Androids and Artificial Intelligence in Her, Automata, & Ex Machina. Alongside her studies, she worked in media monitoring, as a BA tutor for the module Language Skills & Culture, and as an UZH admin assistant. She was also part of student organisations such as the FAVA, SCORE and Filmstelle VSETH. She currently also works as a freelance culture writer, mostly on the subject of film, TV, and video games.

PhD Project

As a continuation of her MA thesis, Morgane's PhD thesis focuses on the complex and meaningful ways in which technology and gender intersect, and how these crossings are represented in various cultural texts. Robots and artificial intelligence had a place in our imagination long before they were within our reach; now that the potential of their existence is becoming a reality, it is highly relevant to examine how they take shape and what it is that they reflect about human nature.

In her cybercultural research, Morgane delves into the liminal dimensions between human and machine and the way it grows in our cultural understanding with special focus on the aspect of gender, desire, and power. The separation of gender and sex connects to complications that emerge when thinking about the phenomenological and ontological origins of the gendered machine, especially with regard to the problem of Cartesian dualism. The soulless machine, the mindless robot, the complex android, the incorporeal artificial intelligence, the voice in the computer--mind/body duality is often reflected in the separately imagined aspects of machine/robotic body and programing/artificial intelligence. The relation of body and mind is an acute concern for artificial intelligence and robotics research; inherently linked to this concern are questions of gender, sex, and desire.

The science that creates artificial entities is not genderless, not free of desire, and neither are its products. Some creators embrace and even celebrate the gendered potential of the human replicas they make, like sex doll maker Matt McMullen or robotics expert Hiroshi Ishiguro, who attributes his creations the potential to know desires, even love. But this issue has been most seriously explored in literature, film, and other media, where the gender and sexuality attributed to artificial beings has also been linked to power. Humanity’s promethean impulses have taken hold in our imaginations and cultural products long before they began to be expressed materially in the form of automata, clones, AI, or robots. And it is there that fears and hopes about the artificial beings we create have gestated; where they are represented as complex imitations of human intelligence, emotion, and/or bodies, and simultaneously as something deeply Other; and, where they become reflections of our conceptions of gender, sex, and desire in a way that is truthful, exaggerated, and invariably linked to power in narratives about control and its loss. 

Research Interests

Other research interests include storytelling, agency, and empathy in video games; gender, space, and frontiers in science fiction; queerness and violence; and, the serial aesthetics of violence.