I’m eager to begin another semester at the University of Pittsburgh. This spring I am teaching three classes: Seminar in Composition (ENGCMP 0200), Reading Poetry (ENGLIT 0315), and Introduction to Critical Reading (ENGLIT 0500). I have taught all three courses before and enjoy each one. Seminar in Composition is a newly redesigned course on the campus novel and the syllabus can be found on my Academia.edu page. I’d be happy to send along the syllabi for the other classes to interested parties, which tweak previous versions. (Among other texts, I’m eager to return to Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves  in Introduction to Critical Reading, and looking for the first time at Claudia Rankine’s Citizen  in Reading Poetry). I have again decided not to do any class blogs this semester. For the blogs of previous classes, see the category “Teaching” to the right.
At this year’s MLA Convention in Austin, Texas, I will be on a panel on The Anthropocene and Deep Time in Literary Studies. I have included the information on the panel and an abstract for the paper I will be presenting below.
670. The Anthropocene and Deep Time in Literary Studies
Saturday, 9 January, 5:15–6:30 p.m., 6B, ACC
Program arranged by the forum LLC 20th- and 21st-Century American
Presiding: Heather Houser, Univ. of Texas, Austin
The notion of the Anthropocene was coined in 2000 to highlight that human beings’ transformation of the planetary environment will be visible in the geological strata. Beyond its crucial influence in the environmental humanities, the Anthropocene links to discussions of deep time in literary studies. This session taps into and elaborates on these two ongoing discussions.
“Fictional Quantities That Make Themselves Real”: Speculation, Petropolitics, and Deep Time in Reza Negarestani’s Cyclonopedia
Since its publication in 2008, Reza Negarestani’s experimental work of “theory-fiction,” Cyclonopedia: Complicity with Anonymous Materials, has become somewhat of a literary touchstone for a variety of writers and thinkers revolving in the orbit of speculative realism. Resembling what would happen if Deleuze and Guattari collaborated with H. P. Lovecraft, Cyclonopedia is a serious, albeit ironic encounter with non-correlationist thought, with speculation, deep time, and hyperobjects of all kinds. It is also a rigorous literary attempt to think through climate change, the War on Terror, and the petropolitical realities of the twenty-first century. This paper will explore a variety of issues that converge in Negarestani’s remarkable book. Beginning with Cyclonopedia’s implicit emphasis on how speculation is necessary for thinking the present (rather than, say, rationalism, measurement, or management), this paper will argue that Negarestani’s encounter with geology and nonhuman hyperobjects indicates that experimental literature may be uniquely suited to thinking about deep time and the realities of climate change in a way unavailable to more conventional narratives. If Steven Shaviro has recently suggested that “at its best, speculative philosophy rather resembles speculative fiction,” then Negarestani’s “novel” is evidence of what might happen when speculative philosophy becomes speculative fiction. Cyclonopedia is not only an important text for thinking about nonhuman entities and deep time in an age of observable climate change, it is also an important entry into the ancient debate between poetry and philosophy. Less a “novel after theory” than theory as novel, Cyclonopedia demonstrates that literature will continue to play an important role for understanding the Anthropocene.
Nuclear and Environment
Saeed Kamali Dehghan, “Iranian Parliament Passes Bill Approving Nuclear Deal.”
McKenzie Wark, “The Capitalocene.”
Daniel Schlozman, “The Sanders Phenomenon.”
Nicola Twilley, “Meet the Martians.”
Tom Chmielewski, “After Intelligent Life Is Discovered.”
Ross Andersen, “The Most Mysterious Star in Our Galaxy” (need I say “alien megastructures”?).
National Security State
Arjun Sethi, “Obama Misled the Public on Drones.”
And an old one: Mike Lofgren, “Anatomy of the Deep State.”
Alexander R. Galloway, “From Data to Information.”
Jacob Brogan, “The Shame of Finding Your Younger Self Online.”
Adrienne LaFrance, “Raiders of the Lost Web.”
Alison Gopnik, “No, Your Children Aren’t Becoming Digital Zombies.”
Literature and Culture
Dawn Lundy Martin, ed., “Dossier: On Race and Innovation,” a special issue of boundary 2.
Charles Stross, “21st Century: A Complaint.”
Park MacDougald, “The Darkness before the Right.”
Adam Kelly, “E. L. Doctorow’s Postmodernist Style.”
Barrett Brown, “Stop Sending Me Jonathan Franzen Novels.”
Ira Wells, “Mr. Difficult Rejects His Title,” review of Purity, by Jonathan Franzen.
Wesley Morris, “The Year We Obsessed Over Identity.”
Richard Brody, “Postscript: Chantal Akerman.”
Dan Brooks, “Banksy and the Problem of Sarcastic Art.”
Alec Wilkinson, “Something Borrowed,” on Kenneth Goldsmith.
Alberto Comparini, “The Questionable Orthodoxy of Genres,” review of The Novel Essay, 1884-1947, by Stefano Ercolino.
Bill Capossere, “Purposeful Motion,” review of Changing the Subject: Art and Attention in the Internet Age, by Sven Birkerts.
Davey Wreden’s The Beginner’s Guide.
Mathieu Piccarreta, “French City Introduces ‘Short Story Dispensers’ In Public Areas.”
The Great Concavity, a new podcast on David Foster Wallace.
And Ian Bogost, “Egg McNothin’.”
Humanities and Higher Education
Audrey Watters, “The Functions of Education-Technology Criticism.”
Mary Ellen McIntire, “How One College Hopes to Reshape General Education.”
Jenna Lay, “Job-Market Advice–for Faculty.”
And I am Pseudonymous, “Dear Cornell University. . . .”
Marylynne Pitz, “Warhol Curator Quits after Five Months.”
These links are coming a day late, but as anticipated, it has been a very busy semester.
Nuclear and Environmental
Lizzie Wade, “Earth in 10,000 Years.”
John Metcalfe, “Imagining the Most Catastrophic Climate Future Ever.”
Steven Vogel, “Environmental Ethics in a Postnatural World.”
Laurence Topham , Alok Jha and Will Franklin, “Building the Bomb.”
Ross Andersen, “Watching Nuclear War From Across the Galaxy.”
US and National Security State
Sy Hersh, “Evil but Stupid.”
Adrienne LaFrance, “Water Is Flowing on Mars.”
Rose Eveleth, “Introducing the Archive Corps.”
Colin Coopman, “The Algorithm and the Watchtower.”
Zachary Loeb, “The Social Construction of Acceleration,” review of Pressed for Time: The Acceleration of Life in Digital Capitalism, by Judy Wajcman.
Miya Tokumitsu, “The Politics of the Curation Craze.”
Margarita Noriega, “The Map of Literature.”
And an old one: Grant Brunner, “Programmer Creates 800,000 Books Algorithmically, Starts Selling Them on Amazon.”
Literature and Culture
N. Katherine Hayles, “Searching for Purpose,” review of Seveneves, by Neal Stephenson, and Aurora, by Kim Stanley Robinson.
Fredric Jameson, “In Hyperspace,” review of Time Travel: The Popular Philosophy of Narrative, by David Wittenberg.
Ian Bogost, “In the Habit,” review of Gamelife, by Michael W. Clune.
Alexander R. Galloway, “Assessing the Legacy of That Thing That Happened After Poststructuralism” and “From Data to Information.”
Bruce Robbins, “Working on TV.”
Anjali Vaidya, “The Final Installment of the Ibis Trilogy,” review of Flood of Fire, by Amitav Ghosh.
Laila Lalami, review of Flood of Fire, by Amitav Ghosh.
Mark Goble, “Good Literary Criticism: On the Crisis of Man,” review of The Age of the Crisis of Man: Thought and Fiction in America 1933-1972, by Mark Greif.
Brian Spears, “Yellowface in Poetry.”
Jenny Zhang, “They Pretend To Be Us While Pretending We Don’t Exist.”
Aaron Bady, “Best American Poetry Pseudonyms.”
Teju Cole, “Migrants Welcome.”
John Beck, “Beneath the Soviets the Beach,” review of Molecular Red, by McKenzie Wark.
Janet Maslin, “The Art of Memoir, by Mary Karr, Is a Veteran’s Guide.”
Amanda Fortini, “Interview: Mary Karr, The Art of Memoir, no. 1.”
Morten Høi Jensen, “Me, Myself, and Hitler,” review of My Struggle, Book Five, by Karl Ove Knausgaard.
Rhys Williams, “Wake Up and Smell the Weird,” review of Three Moments of an Explosion, by China Miéville.
Eleanor Goodman, “Letter from Shanghai.”
Andrew Broaks, “Do You Miss the Future? Mark Fisher Interviewed.
Urmila Seshagiri, “Biology, Destiny, Purity.”
David Haglund, “Mr. Robot and the Angry Young Man.”
Don DeLillo, Zero K (forthcoming).
David Orr, “The Most Misread Poem in America.”
Laura Miller, “David Foster Wallace and the Perils of ‘Litchat.'”
Phillip Maciak, “Original Programming: On Mr. Robot.”
De Witt Douglas Kilgore, “Envisioning Astroculture in the American Hemisphere,” review of Past Futures : Science Fiction, Space Travel, and Postwar Art of the Americas, by Sarah J. Montross.
Martin Woessner, “Fail Slow, Fail Hard,” review of Freedom to Fail: Heidegger’s Anarchy, by Peter Trawny.
George Gene Gustines, “Ta-Nehisi Coates to Write Black Panther Comic for Marvel.”
Dan Piepenbring, “The Solar Anus.”
Don Van Natta Jr. and Seth Wickersham, “Spygate to Deflategate: Inside What Split the NFL and Patriots Apart.”
Heidi Kemps, “Nintendo’s Forgotten Console.”
Grace Ambrose, “Reissue of the Week: Conflict.”
Patrick Jagoda, Network Aesthetics (pre-order).
Andrea K. Scott, “Triple Threat” (on Triple Canopy).
Julia Yu, “Goodnight Dune.”
And Jared Smith, “Taylor Swift: A Socratic Dialogue.”
Humanities and Higher Education
Megan Garber, “The Rise of ‘Quit Lit.'”
Colleen Flaherty, “Public Good-byes.”
Ian Bogost, “No One Cares that You Quit Your Job.”
David L. Ulin, “Read before You Speak.”
Adrienne LaFrance, “Millennials Are Outreading Older Generations.”
Henry Veggian, “Adjunct Professors and the Myth of Prestige.”
Simon During, “Stop Hyping Academic Freedom.”
And the 2015-2016 academic year is “The Year of the Humanities” at the University of Pittsburgh.