I'd like to put on your radar an online seminar-style course that may be of interest to subscribers of H-Afro-Am
Why Lovecraft? Why Now? – taught by Rebekah Sheldon; January 4–February 1, 2021; Mondays, 7–8pm ET; 4 online class sessions over a period of 5 weeks; enrollment is open but limited to the first 20 students.
Course description: The critical and commercial success of HBO’s Lovecraft Country is only the most visible in a decades-long resurgence of interest in the writings of H. P. Lovecraft. The publication in 2005 of the mammoth Library of America edition of his Tales indicates academic standing, but his singular voice and unique mythos pop up across American popular culture. Whether through the town of Arkham, the monstrous elder god Cthulhu, or The Necronomicon, Lovecraft’s stories have influenced comics, games, and memes, inspired fiction, film, and television, and even appeared on decorative throw rugs and t-shirts. Yet Lovecraft is also an avatar of American race hatred in its most blatant and corrosive form. So what does the resurgence of Lovecraft’s mythology tell us about the present, another moment of violent and visible nativism and anti-black racism?
In this course we will focus on the New Weird, a group of 21st-century authors who are rewriting Lovecraft’s oeuvre and taking his images in dramatically new directions. For some of these writers, especially women authors and writers of color, Lovecraft’s ideas have sunk too far into the groundwork of American culture to simply cancel him. These writers tend to use shifts in narrative perspective to expose the colonial logic that informs Lovecraft’s tales and to give voice to characters that Lovecraft refuses, ignores, or makes into signs of degenerate evil. For other writers of the New Weird, it is the cosmic indifference of the Weird, its sense for the strange animacy of nonhuman life, that makes the genre worth revisiting. These writers find in the Weird an appropriate aesthetic strategy for intuiting the new realities of the Anthropocene. Beginning with the first episode of Lovecraft Country and several definitions of the weird, occult, uncanny, and eerie, this course will focus on two novellas that exemplify the range of the New Weird: Victor LaValle’s novella The Ballad of Black Tom (2016) and Jeff VanderMeer’s novella The Strange Bird (2017). Read more here: https://borderlinesopenschool.org/courses/p/whylovecraft
The instructor, Rebekah Sheldon, is Associate Professor of English and Adjunct Associate Professor of Gender Studies at Indiana University where she was the recipient of the 2017 Outstanding Junior Faculty award. Her first book, The Child to Come: Life After the Human Catastrophe, appeared in 2016 from the University of Minnesota Press and received an Honorary Mention from the Science Fiction and Technocultural Studies award committee. In addition to her research, she teaches courses on feminist theory, queer theory, and speculative fiction.
This course is hosted by a new nonprofit initiative, Borderlines Open School for Advanced Cross-Cultural Studies, which aims to offer the general public, students, teachers, and professors alike affordable opportunities for engaging with and developing advanced and creative scholarship outside of the usual university system, as well as to ethically pay and support all of their instructors, recognizing their intellectual and pedagogical labor as valuable work that matters. To learn more about this new initiative, please see their FAQs.