Dissertation Project Description
Tracing the legacies of early twentieth-century “weird fiction” into both contemporary horror and recent materialist thought, my dissertation, Weird Reading: Horror as Radical Politics at the End of the World, theorizes the weird as a generic influence, a political orientation toward the human, and as a method of reading. By emphasizing the ways that the supernatural elements of horror texts disrupt narrative and resist interpretation (weird reading), it argues that horror presents readers not only with ontological speculation, but also with affective disturbances and pleasures that challenge normative understandings of race, gender, and sexuality. Drawing on a range contemporary horror novels and films, each chapter focuses on a different figure as it corresponds to both a generic mode and a political scale: the scream (the gothic, history); the zombie (body horror, the body), the witch (the monstrous feminine, desire), and the fossil (ecohorror, the planet).
Watch a video overview of my dissertation project:
Future research includes planned articles outside the dissertation project and a second book (to be written after publication of the dissertation). Here is a brief overview:
- “Birthing the Apocalypse” – something of a follow-up to my first article published in philoSOPHIA on birth in the Anthropocene, this article will examine the representation in popular media and cultural fascination with giving birth in apocalyptic scenarios. Works include AMC’s The Walking Dead (2010-present), Meg Elison’s novel The Book of the Unnamed Midwife (2014), Josh Malerman’s novel Bird Box (2014), and John Krasinski’s film A Quiet Place (2018).
- “Horror’s Metafictions” – this article will trace the legacies of metafictive techniques used in weird fiction and horror beginning in the 19th century, in contrast with the ironic and affectively distancing techniques of postmodern metafiction. An early version of this article will be presented at SLSA in November, 2018.
- “Folklore/Fakelore” – this article will examine the processes of constructing simulated folklore and myth in both the history of horror fiction (into the present) and in contemporary online communities through phenomena such as the “digital campfire.” I will also consider the political and cultural consequences of these processes, particularly in relation to the concept of hyperstition, a term popularized by controversial figures like Nick Land.
While researching reading practices for weird fiction, I began developing an adjacent project on fan writing practices as they relate to genre formation and proliferation. Drawing on archival research that looks at the letters sections of pulp magazines, as well as both pre- and post-internet fan publications, this second project will theorize the ways that gendered, raced, and class-based fan practices have shaped the horror genre both before the introduction of the internet and after.