For Wed. (5/15)

Bookforum and podcast!  Prepare for a super-sized bookforum on Rivers Solomon’s An Unkindness of Ghosts.

Also, prepare for some in-class writing.

For Monday (5/13)

Let’s finish talking about An Unkindness of Ghosts.

One interesting context for Rivers Solomon’s novel might be Afrofuturism – – a contemporary aesthetic and cultural movement with roots in the 1960s and 70s.  What is Afrofuturism?  Many have pointed to Janelle Monae’s “Dirty Computer” (above) as a key example.  Definitions and descriptions vary: here’s one; here’s another;  yet another here;  you can find an additional example here.  While Afrofuturism won’t answer all our questions about An Unkindness of Ghosts, it may help us to think about the significance and purpose of Solomon’s novel.

For Wed. (5/8)

For Wed., let’s continue talking about An Unkindness of Ghosts.  Read up to the end of Chapter XVI/Part II Metallurgy (p. 222 in the codex book version).

For Monday (5/6)

For Monday, let’s start Rivers Solomon’s An Unkindness of Ghosts.  Read up to the end of Chapter XII.

Btw, our latest podcast espisode is live!

Podcast Episode #5: Jeff VanderMeer, “Annihilation” (2014)

Jeff VanderMeer’s Area X is a strange zone of transformation and transition.  How does one cope with living between the binary of humanity and nature?  Is it better to resist or assimilate to environmental change?  What does VanderMeer’s novel tell us about the limits of science and human control?  Can “annihilation” also be an act of reclamation?

Join Maria Elena (aka M.E.), Nicole, Reggie, Amal, and Francisco – – five students from “Reading Literature in the Age of Trump,” an undergraduate course at San Francisco State University – – as they discuss Jeff VanderMeer’s 2014 novel, Annihilation.

Music by Nadia4Sound at

For Wed. (5/1)

Bookforum!  Prepare to be edified by your comrades!

After our bookforum, if we have some time, I’d like to discuss the following passage from the very last, few pages of VanderMeer’s novel:

And what had manifested? What do I believe manifested? Think of it as a thorn, perhaps, a long, thick thorn so large it is buried deep in the side of the world. Injecting itself into the world. Emanating from this giant thorn is an endless, perhaps automatic, need to assimilate and to mimic. Assimilator and assimilated interact through the catalyst of a script of words, which powers the engine of transformation. Perhaps it is a creature living in perfect symbiosis with a host of other creatures. Perhaps it is “merely” a machine. But in either instance, if it has intelligence, that intelligence is far different from our own. It creates out of our ecosystem a new world, whose processes and aims are utterly alien—one that works through supreme acts of mirroring, and by remaining hidden in so many other ways, all without surrendering the foundations of its otherness as it becomes what it encounters.


For Monday (4/29)

Let’s finish up Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation for Monday.

I’m particularly interested in the biologist’s reflections at the end of “03: Immolation”:

A ghost bird might be a hawk in one place, a crow in another, depending on the context.  The sparrow that shot up into the blue sky one morning might transform mid-flight into an osprey the next.  This was the way of things here.  There were no reasons so mighty that they could over-ride the desire to be in accord with the tides and the passage of seasons and the rhythms underlying everything around me. (111)

Podcast Episode #4: Claudia Rankine, “Citizen: An American Lyric” (2014)

How has race become both (in)visible and hyper-visible in the Age of Trump?  How is race experienced as spectacle and everyday reality?

Join Makeila, Michael, Chriselle, Marissa, and Rodney – – five students from “Reading Literature in the Age of Trump,” an undergraduate course at San Francisco State University as they discuss Claudia Rankine’s poetry volume – – Citizen: An American Lyric (2014).

Music by Nadia4Sound at

For Wed. (4/23)

More Annihilation, please!  Let’s read at least up to the end of the third section – – “Immolation” – – of VanderMeer’s novel.  I’m particularly interested in your take on the graffiti/writing on the wall that the biologist discovers in the tower/tunnel.  Take a look and think about what it might mean/or not mean.  I’ll ask you to write out your reflections when you come to class.

Also, I’ve linked the image above to various fan fiction/reader-remixes of Annihilation.  Some of them are pretty fun.

And, don’t forget: your Quotation Quilt is now due on Monday, April 29.

For Monday (4/22)

Let’s start Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation!  Let’s read the first 65 pages of the novel – – to about midway through Chapter 2 “Integration.”