Here's the official reading list for ENGL 459 on Disaster Fiction, along with a quick breakdown of the class's organization: Part I: The Disaster Novel Lucifer's Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle Part II: The Postmodern Disaster Novel White Noise by Don DeLillo Part III: Apocalyptic Journeys Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler… Continue reading Reading List for ENGL 459: Disaster Fiction (Fall 2009)
I've got two fantastic advanced literature classes planned for Fall 2009: ENGL 459 (Disaster Fiction) This class explores what the influential critic and novelist Susan Sontag called "the imagination of disaster." Sontag was speaking of Hollywood cinema of the fifties and sixties, arguing that end-of-the-world films of this era simultaneously aestheticize destruction and address a… Continue reading Fall 2009 Course Descriptions
Google Maps Mania recently highlighted a website that should satisfy your urge for disaster porn during that dry spell between hurricane season and tornado season: AVCRASH, a Google Map mashup with aviation accident (i.e. plane crash) data from the National Transportation Safety Board. You can narrow your search by time period, location, type of aircraft,… Continue reading Disaster Porn: Airplanes Crashes!
"The more we rehearse disaster, the safer we'll be from the real thing.....There is no substitute for a planned simulation." So says a character in Don DeLillo's 1985 novel White Noise, as a midwestern town is overrun by men in Mylar suits, conducting a simulated evacuation from some vague chemical disaster. Yesterday we had out… Continue reading This is a test, this is only a test.
What Calendar is complete without evacuation plans? (Larger Image) Detail from the McGuire Emergency Planner (Larger Image) And here is more from my McGuire Emergency Planning Calendar, mailed by the nuclear family of Duke Power to every local resident just in case. My very own evacuation strategy! Three things I might be told to do?… Continue reading Warning!! Stay Indoors
My Emergency Planning Calendar from the local nuclear power plant includes many helpful reminders, such as: Martin Luther King Day is January 17; March 20 is the first day of spring; Father's Day is right around the corner on June 19; July 5 sees the emergency siren test at 11:50 AM; And "there are four… Continue reading Warning!! Unusual Event!!
I know it's not July yet, but I wanted to share this lovely photograph of a local watershed, found on the July page of a calendar that I received in the mail, free, a few months ago. Who could be sending out these gorgeous free calendars to all the area residents? Why, Duke Power, of… Continue reading Warning!! Emergency Planning Calendar!!
All this thinking about the dangers of suburbia reminds me of a passage from Joan Didion's great 1970 novel Play It As It Lays. Maria Wyeth, the washed-up, strung-out actress in the novel exists in a near catatonic state. For days during the rain she did not speak out loud or read a newspaper. She… Continue reading Suburbia: The Unspeakable Peril in the Everyday