Reading List for ENGL 459: Disaster Fiction (Fall 2009)

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)

Fall 2009 Course Descriptions

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

Disaster Porn: Airplanes Crashes!

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!

This is a test, this is only a test.

"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.

Suburbia: The Unspeakable Peril in the Everyday

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