This spring seminar, “Fictional Worlds & Possible Futures”, builds on the previous one (“Entities and Worlds/Genres and Climates”). By focusing on the philosophical and literary concepts of the world and world creation, it will examine the fictional and the possible, philosophically, but more specifically in contexts that are hyperstitional (making things real, coincidence intensification) and weird (genre splitting and recombination). In attending to possibility and futurity, we hope to examine how the creation of worlds theoretically and fictionally lend themselves to the interconnection of ethics, politics, and time.
The New Weird is a notoriously difficult literary genre to define, as it involves splicing together of fantasy, horror, and science fiction genres – but as Ann and Jeff Vandermeer suggest, The New Weird undermines those genres’ fixed cliches and overtly romanticized world views. Indeed, the genre remains difficult to define further. As Michael Cisco has put it:
“Nothing could be more unenlightening or useless than a New Weird manifesto. What strikes the observer is precisely the spontaneity with which so many different writers, pursuing such obviously disparate literary styles, should vaguely intersect in this way. Instead of a set of general aims, we have a great proliferation of correspondences on a more intimate level, like a sprawling coincidence of idiosyncratic choices.”
The seminar will be composed of four two and a half hour sessions, each split between an hour and an hour and a half lecture and around an hour of group discussion. Students are required to do the assigned readings for each week, along with participating in presentations and discussion. In addition, each student is expected to lead at least one discussion on assigned readings during the course of the seminar. Students will also manage their own blogs, in which they will compose a 400 word post regarding some aspects of the weeks topic in advance. This will be shared via Google Classroom for everyone to read and comment upon as they wish, providing some preliminary threads for the group discussion. The final assessment will consist of a 2500 word essay on a topic agreed upon with the instructors in advance. Students do have the option of presenting their own project as a replacement for the final essay.