Archive for VanderMeer

Reading list and schedule for my graduate class on Weird and New Weird Fiction

Posted in Teaching, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 27 July 2020 by Ben

In case anyone is interested, here is the mostly finalized reading list and schedule for ENGL 5529-002, on Weird and New Weird Fiction, which starts up in a few weeks. Some small things might change, but this is the gist of it.

I chose not to do a chronological survey. Rather, I have organized the readings around methods, genre, and themes (for lack of a better word). The primary texts are very roughly chronologically organized, but in some cases I thought the approach I ended up with made for a better overall flow to a course that caters to young scholars with their own research plans. This organization, I think, will also make for some more interesting comparisons across historical moments in the development of the weird than would a strictly chronological approach.

I deeply regret leaving certain things off the syllabus, especially Anna Kavan’s Ice (which is not generally considered a weird book, even if it is weird) and Steph Swainston’s The Year of Our War, which did not really fit into the course as well as I would have liked and I left off to make room for Yamashita and some of the other stuff towards the end. Even if some of this stuff is not, strictly speaking, weird, it nonetheless will provide a larger context for weird fiction through its international scope. Or so I hope.

Thanks to my Twitter crew for advice on some grad-course-related issues.

ENGL 5529-002 Preliminary Reading List and Schedule

My bibliography/works cited for None of this is normal: The Fiction of Jeff VanderMeer

Posted in None of this is normal, Writing with tags , , , , , , on 22 July 2020 by Ben

I know everyone likes endnotes, but if you have ever wanted my list of works cited for None of this is normal all in one place, well this is for you.

PDF here. HTML below the fold.

Continue reading

On Dradin, in Love; or, VanderMeer ephemera

Posted in None of this is normal, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 13 July 2017 by Ben

Part of the reason I wanted to write about Jeff VanderMeer is Dradin, in Love, the 1996 novella that became the first section of “The Book of Ambergris” in City of Saints and Madmen. It is a very strange story insofar as it is set in a secondary world but includes few of the trappings of fantasy. I am currently trying to wrap up my chapter on the Ambergris novels and was committed to shoe-horning my thoughts on Dradin in there somewhere. Overall, the chapter discusses how the Ambergris books take up both postmodernist poetics and the secondary world-building of fantasy. These two things do not exist with one another easily, as the skepticism endemic to postmodernist fiction tends to destroy the naive worlds found in fantasy. However, I argue that Ambergris is a world, a materiality, entirely made up of its textuality. Whereas in fictions such as House of Leaves, textuality becomes an abyss without a bottom into which characters and events might fall, in City of Saints and Madmen this textuality is the bottom, the condition. You will have to read the book to get more about that.

That all said, I am so focused in the chapter on Duncan Shriek that maintaining the discussion of Dradin became untenable. As such, I have cut it and provide it here, for your consideration and amusement. Enjoy. Or not. (BTW, the last line of this refers to the title of this subsection of the chapter, “This is Ambergris,” which is a line from “The Strange Case of X,” the fourth section of City of Saints and Madmen.)

Continue reading