English 188A - Spring, 2018

Topics in Literary and Critical Theory

    Topic: Weird Nature

Class Information

Instructor: Menely, Tobias
CRN: 81979
Time: TR 12:10-1:30
Location: 308 Voorhies


    This seminar in eco-theory is about the environmental uncanny and eco-horror, weird fiction and global weirding, and what comes after the end of the world. Reading novels and poems, and watching two films (Blade Runner and Annihilation), we’ll consider the sublimity of planetary disaster, the incomprehensibility of human infrastructure and modern technology, as well as the ways in which nonhuman animacy, articulacy, and energy disturb our sense of the world and our place in it. Starting with Shelley’s Frankenstein and Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” we’ll read texts in which human action rebounds in mysterious form, in which the ambiguous border between self and other is a source of dread or delight. We’ll think about human-animal hybrids, monsters, and cyborgs, slimy sea-snakes and sinister trees, cataclysmic climate change and the dark ocean depths. We’ll consider both ecophobia and ecophilia, the anxiety of being too intimately connected with what is inhuman as well as the unease of being alienated from the living world.


    Two Five-Page Essays: 40%
    Online Discussion Forum: 30%
    Class Participation: 10%
    Final Exam 20%


    Frankenstein (1818 ed., Oxford), Mary Shelley
    The Island of Dr. Moreau (Oxford ed.), H.G. Wells
    Animal’s People, Indra Sinha
    The Fifth Season, N.K. Jemisin
    Annihilation, Jeff VanderMeer