Literature of Horror, Fantasy & Sci-Fi

Course Blog for LMST345 Ringling College of Art

This week we will be discussing recent trends in the horror genre and among the most influential, in my view, is what some call The New Weird. 

The term evokes the old Weird Tales Magazine, a pulp magazine in which a range of stories appeared  dramatizing uncanny experience, tales of the monstrous, or experiences with the supernatural. There was an easy mixing of genre in this publication with little attention to whether any individual work would have been considered horror, science fiction or fantasy. Some works appearing there would have elements of all three. 

The New Weird seems to me to imply something of an emphasis on the horrific or uncanny, while "slipstream" a similar term that evolved in roughly the same time period, seemed to place something of an emphasis on the science fiction elements of the story. Both terms reflect interests that were self-consciously literary and whose projects tended to dissolve barriers between genre. While based in genre, works of these types often use surreal and anti-real strategies and don't necessarily rely on the storytelling conventions of realistic fiction. 

Bizarro fiction, a literary based movement with a similar orientation against the conventions of realistic storytelling also emerges in roughly the same time period, especially the years 2007-2008 when these terms become more widely discussed.

The most prominent writer described as embodying The New Weird is the English novelist, China Miéville. King Rat, his first novel which takes place in the old school dub step culture of London is the featured work for this week, Three Moments of an Explosion which is a collection of shorter work is a good alternative Another recent novel of hisRailsea, a reimagining of Moby Dick with steam trains and giant moles. Perdido Street Station, a longer novel is considered one of the major works of The New Weird.

In film, The New Weird might in someways be best represented by Mumblegore, an independent horror genre that parallels many of the same production techniques and approaches as Mumblecore films. The production values include micro-budgets, unknown actors and improvised dialogue.

Here's a link to excellent article about Mumblegore and some of its personalities from the LA Weekly.

The movie, Cabin in the Woods, with its over-the-top deployment of every genre element it can muster is this week's featured movie.  V/H/S (2012), an anthology film from several directors associated with the Mumblegore movement, is an interesting alternative choice. The old school weird movie Freaks by Tod Browning is also highly recommended.

There are a number of other books and films listed on the course syllabus for this week that suggest possible new directions for the genre of horror. We will discuss some of those in specific and the future of horror in general when we meet in class.

In the writing assignment for this week I would like you to create a blog post that discusses what you read for the topic of the New Weird and what you think other future trends in the genre of horror might be and why that trend is developing.


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