A tasty 2D/3D illustration, newly minted by the Canadian artist Barret Chapman. This looks like it might make a nice book cover, if anyone’s seeking one.
A new consolidated gallery of photographs of H.P. Lovecraft in chronological order, created as a 2011 birthday tribute.
1925 — Standing in front of 169 Clinton Street, Brooklyn, New York City.
Scott Herring calls for a new academic approach that might ferry the study of English Literature back from the land of limbo. It’s an approach that the history-venerating Lovecraft would have approved of…
History gives us the facts, sort of, but from literary works we can learn what the past smelled like, sounded like, and felt like, the forgotten gritty details of a lost era. Literature brings us as close as we can come to reinhabiting the past. […]
The past is not another country; it is another life. The texture of daily living is different now than in the past, more different the further back we look, until we find people whose experiences created a psychology we might find baffling or rude. Many details that once made up the daily round are lost to us because people considered them too trivial to write down. […]
Let the dead French theorists lie. Instead, literary scholars can become guides to the physical reality of the past. If you think about it, that’s what we’ve been doing in class for the last hundred years […] Once ordinary people note that we’re doing something useful again, they might stop looking at us like we’re nuts.
That seems fine when the literature in question directly describes that re-imagined past. Such an apparently straightforward approach and lack of obscurantist clutter might well appeal to both students and administrators, if not to many English Lit academics. Although I can imagine the historical approach morphing into ‘Political Correctness 101’ in many left-leaning classrooms, with the life of the author wheeled in as Exhibit A for the prosecution. I can also see a great many authors being avoided altogether, to ‘avoid offending’, if one had to focus as much on the history as on the text.
A more interesting approach might be cross-disciplinary and tailored to each student. Let each student start by discovering their specific family history and tree, gaining basic research skills along the way — then spiral out from there into the relevant fiction, social histories, economics, topography, frameworks of ideas, visual representations, etc.
But what of science fiction? One might run into problems there, with a historical approach. Not because one can’t show that these forms and stories arise partly from the events and concerns present in their time-of-writing. But it seems a tall order to ask students to discover such factors independently, as a part of answering assigned essay questions. Students would need to be: pretty good historians already; able to read widely across many books (each with only a small nugget that tangentially illuminates the story in question); and generally have top-notch online search and information-handling skills. That level of ability is unreachable for all but the top 10% of dedicated students, at a time when history is being dropped in many (UK) schools, when the USA is playing tug-o-war with history in the classroom, and when online search-skills are only very cursorily taught (if at all) in the English-speaking world.
Some forthcoming conferences that may interest…
Monsters and The Monstrous 2011 (Oxford, UK, Sept 2011)
Monstrosity and Humanity conference (English Midlands, UK, Nov 2011)
Vampires: Myths of the Past and the Future (London, UK, Nov 2011)
The Monstrous Fantastic (Florida, March 2012)
Urban Fantasies: Magic and the Supernatural (Prague, Eastern Europe, March 2012)
Bram Stoker and Gothic Transformations (Hull, North of England, UK, April 2012)
The modern Weird Tales magazine has been sold by Wildside Press to a new owner/editor. Or at least, the rights to use the brand name for a magazine. The new owner is Marvin Kaye, whose first issue of the magazine will apparently be a Cthulhu special in Feb 2012. SF Scope writes of Kaye…
“The 73-year-old Kaye edited the anthology Weird Tales, The Magazine That Never Dies, which Doubleday published in 1988. He is the author of 16 novels and six nonfiction books, in addition to plays and play adaptations. He has edited at least 30 anthologies, and won the World Fantasy Award for best anthology in 2006 for The Fair Folk.”
Myke Amend added to the ‘Lovecraft on the Web’ Directory…