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The Old Ones: Modernities and Antiquities of Global Weird Fictions

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Organizer: Sam Lasman

Co-Organizer: CC Jones

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China Miéville describes how the iconic beings of Weird fiction, epitomized by Cthulhu, possess “radical unremembered alterity” even as they are “always described as ancient.” They are at once both acutely new and deeply old. This aporetic analysis sheds light on why Weird fiction is experiencing both an academic and a popular resurgence in the contemporary moment, as the world confronts crises that bring deep time and historical identities into entirely unprecedented collisions. In staying with the trouble of the Anthropocene, the problematic of the global Weird, both theoretical and fictional, is more pressing than ever.  

Essentially, this seminar asks: what is Weird fiction, and when, where, and how did it emerge? To what extent can we speak of a transhistorical Weird, as opposed to one grounded in (a) specific sociocultural moment(s)? We frame the seminar as a debate-towards-synthesis among views of Weird fiction as an essentially modern innovation versus those which excavate its deeper cultural roots. In doing so, we seek to open a historically insular and Anglophone discussion to a broader, more diverse, and more methodologically comparative world of the literary and artistic Weird. Building on interventions by Mark Fisher, Eugene Thacker, Patricia MacCormack, and other theorists, we will strive to articulate the operations of the Weird in and beyond global literatures.

We invite submissions that interrogate standard genealogies of Weird fiction, from modernists, premodernists, and scholars of global literary and philosophical traditions; analyses of texts that reveal, complicate, or challenge histories of the Weird; discussions of the Weird’s relationship to other modes, including horror, the speculative, and the Eerie; and projects that otherwise grapple with the questions raised above.


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