Hitherto classified as a form of genre fiction, or as a particular aesthetic quality of literature by H. P. Lovecraft, the weird has now come to refer to a broad spectrum of artistic practices and expressions including fiction, film, television, photography, music, and visual and performance art. Largely under-theorized so far, The American Weird brings together perspectives from literary, cultural, media and film studies, and from philosophy, to provide a thorough exploration of the weird mode. Separated into two sections - the first exploring the concept of the weird and the second how it is applied through various media - this book generates new approaches to fundamental questions: Can the weird be conceptualized as a generic category, as an aesthetic mode or as an epistemological position? May the weird be thought through in similar ways to what Sianne Ngai calls the zany, the cute, and the interesting? What are the transformations it has undergone aesthetically and politically since its inception in the early twentieth century? Which strands of contemporary critical theory and philosophy have engaged in a dialogue with the discourses of and on the weird? And what is specifically "American" about this aesthetic mode?
As the first comprehensive, interdisciplinary study of the weird, this book not only explores the writings of Lovecraft, Caitlin Kiernan, China Mieville, and Jeff VanderMeer, but also the graphic novels of Alan Moore, the music of Captain Beefheart, the television show Twin Peaks and the films of Lily Amirpour, Matthew Barney, David Lynch, and Jordan Peele.
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Julius Greve is a lecturer and research associate at the Institute for English and American Studies, University of Oldenburg, Germany. He is the author of Shreds of Matter: Cormac McCarthy and the Concept of Nature (2018), and of numerous articles on McCarthy, Mark Z. Danielewski, Francois Laruelle, and speculative realism. Greve has co-edited America and the Musical Unconscious (2015), Superpositions: Laruelle and the Humanities (2017), "Cormac McCarthy Between Worlds" (2017), and Spaces and Fictions of the Weird and the Fantastic: Ecologies, Geographies, Oddities (2019). He is currently working on a manuscript on the relation between modern poetics and ventriloquism.
Florian Zappe is an Assistant Professor of American Studies at the Georg-August-University Goettingen, Germany. He is the author of books on William S. Burroughs ('Control Machines' und 'Dispositive' - Eine foucaultsche Analyse der Machtstrukturen im Romanwerk von William S. Burroughs zwischen 1959 und 1968, 2008) and Kathy Acker (Das Zwischen schreiben - Transgression und avantgardistisches Erbe bei Kathy Acker, 2013), as well as the co-editor of the essay collection Surveillance|Society|Culture (2020), and Spaces and Fictions of the Weird and the Fantastic: Ecologies, Geographies, Oddities (2019). In addition to that, he has published widely on literary and visual culture. Currently, he is working on a book project on the cultural history of atheism in America.
1.Introduction: Conceptualizations, Mediations, and Remediations of the American Weird
Julius Greve (University of Oldenburg) and Florian Zappe (University of Goettingen)
Part One: Concept
2. A Doxa of the American Weird
Dan O'Hara (Independent Scholar, UK)
3. The Oozy Set: Toward a Weird(ed) Taxonomy
Johnny Murray (Independent Scholar, UK)
4. Validating Weird Fiction as an (Im)Possible Genre
Anne-Maree Wicks (University of Southern Queensland, Australia)
5. Woke Weird and the Cultural Politics of Camp Transformation
Stephen Shapiro (University of Warwick, UK)
6. The Weird in/of Crisis, 1930/2010
Tim Lanzendoerfer (University of Frankfurt, Germany)
7. After Weird: Harman, Deleuze, and the American "Thing"
Daniel D. Fineman (Occidental College, USA)
8. Concerning A Deleuzean Weird: A Response to Dan Fineman
Graham Harman (Southern California Institute of Architecture, USA)
Part Two: Medium
9. Get Out, Race and Formal Destiny (on Common Weirdness)
Eugenie Brinkema (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA)
10. From a Heap of Broken Images Towards a Postcolonial Weird: Ana Lily Amirpour's Western Landscapes
Maryam Aras (University of Bonn, Germany)
11. "It is in Our House Now": Twin Peaks, Nostalgia, and David Lynch's Weird Spaces
Oliver Moisich and Markus Wierschem (University of Paderborn, Germany)
12. Demolishing the Blues: Captain Beefheart as Modernist Outsider
Paul Sheehan (Macquarie University, Australia)
13. Weird Visual Mythopoeia: On Matthew Barney's Cremaster Cycle
Florian Zappe (University of Goettingen, Germany)
14. Hidden Cultures and the Representation and Creation of Weird Reality in Alan Moore's Providence
Alexander Greiffenstern (Independent Scholar, Germany)
15. Alien Beauty: The Glamour of the Eerie
Fred Francis (Independent Scholar, UK)
16. Conspiracy Hermeneutics: The Secret World as Weird Tale
Tanya Krzywinska (Falmouth University, UK)
17. Afterword: Weird in the Walls
Roger Luckhurst (Birkbeck, University of London, UK)
It's about time that someone took on the task of defining the 'weird'; that deceptively throwaway term that defines so much of what is interesting about popular culture in the US. This excellent collection represents the best of current thinking on the topic. * Dr Kevin Corstorphine, Lecturer in American Literature, University of Hull, UK *
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