Core Programming – panels, academic speakers, author readings, Armitage Symposium presentations, etc
Note: Additional external programming will include varous special live podcasts, parties, book launches, and theatrical events (including a different Dark Adventrue Radio Theater event on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings!). This schedule will be posted in the months to come.
Below is a list of the current slate of proposed panels for the convention – covering these general categories: Pop culture weird, Contemporary/ modern weird, Classic weird including Lovecraft and related topics. This is still a work in progress and more is yet to come.
IF you are a previous panelist or programming participant, or if you would like to be considered as a participant, please use this survey and get in touch!
But Stranger Still is Lost Carcosa. On the shores of Lake Hali, in the star cluster Hyades stands the doomed city of Carcosa. Created by Bierce, developed by Chambers, and embraced by many others in fiction, games, and television, Carcosa is a mysterious and dread location. Our panelists discuss representations of the city and its inhabitants in different works, and how the mythology of Carcosa developed and expanded over time.
The Contemporary Was Always Terrible: The Weird Fiction of J. G. Ballard and its Influence. Science Fiction author J. G. Ballard contributed a body of work with such distinctive characteristics that “Ballardian” has entered the lexicon. His work is filled with dystopian urban landscapes, unbearable anxieties, psychosexual deviance, and the ever-present impact of technology and mechanization on the individual. Our panelists discuss his life and work, such as Crash, The Atrocity Exhibition, and Vermillion Sands, and his influence in visual media, music, and literature. Avant-garde, New Wave, transgressive, provocative, strange… No matter what you call him, we think his work is most definitely part of the Weird cannon.
The Horizon is Still Way Beyond You: Zora Neal Hurston’s Life and Legacy. A Star of the Harlem Renaissance, author, anthropologist, journalist, and filmmaker Zora Neal Hurston fell into relative obscurity for some decades before interest in her work was revitalized in the late 20th Century. A discussion of her enduring legacy.
Horror in Historical Context. What frightens us changes with time, from Victorian ghosts, to the Red Scare terrors of 50s SF, the Satanic Panic of the 80s, to the contemporary specter of social, environmental, and political collapse. How has what scares us changed across time? What remains the same? Panelists investigate the evolution and common threads of our common fears.
The Jewish Tradition in Weird Fiction. Historically, Jewish authors have had a much larger visible influence on science fiction than they have had on the weird or horror genres. Although Jewish characters and Jewish folklore elements, such as the golem and dybbuk, appear, these are often presented within a White Christian framework that may depend on stereotypes and is not framed by Jewish culture and traditions. Our panelists discuss classic and contemporary Jewish authors and how their cultural identity informs their understanding and presentation of the weird.
Out of the Shadows: A History of the Queer Weird. Since the earliest days of weird fiction, authors such as Cora Linn Morrison Daniels, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Sheridan Le Fanu, and Gregory Casparian wrote stories of LGBT+ characters and queer authors have openly or covertly explored queer themes. In this panel, our experts discuss the history and contributions of queer authors from the late 1800s to present, and the influence of Queering and Queer Theory to our understanding of weird fiction.
Savage and Exotic Lands: The (Mis)representation of Non-European Cultures in the Pulp Era. Cannibals. Strange Rites. Places no (White) man would dare to tread. Inaccurate, stereotypical, and racist representations of the cultures and people outside of Europe and the United States were a staple of pulp fiction and linger even today. Our panelists discuss the nature and legacy of the exotic Othering of people from around the world in weird fiction. Why did this occur? Are there classic writers that went the extra mile and got it right?
Tracing the Lineage of Weird Poetry: A Deep Dive into the Roots, Evolution, and Boundaries of the Weird Poetry Canon. Panelists discuss the dimensions and history of weird poetry. Can it be defined by theme, elements, or form, or is tracing influences and lineage a more productive strategy? What poetry genres or schools are weird-adjacent but clearly distinct, and how do we know?
Under Conditions of Absolute Reality: Shirley Jackson’s Life and Legacy. From the publication of her then-controversial short “The Lottery” until her untimely death at the age of forty-eight, Shirley Jackson produced an enduring body of novels and short stories that still resonate today. Our panelists discuss the life and enduring legacy of one of the masters of American Literature.
The Weird Has Always Been Female: The women’s canon of weird fiction. Recent scholarship shines an increasing light on the women founders and pioneers of weird fiction who have been there since the beginning of the genre. Sometimes sidelined, sometimes writing under pseudonyms, sometimes celebrated. Our panelists trace the history of the weirdwomen who shaped the genre, identify those overlooked or forgotten, and discuss the influence of women writers from Mary Shelley to the modern era.
What Have We Lost? A great deal of weird fiction was considered disposable at the time of publication, and few imagined it would remain relevant or popular today. Panelists discuss the history preservation of pulp-era magazines and cheap paperbacks, sources and resources for researchers, and the tragedy of work lost forever.
Cultes des Gouls: The Ghoul or Gul in History and as Interpreted in Weird Fiction, Art, and Gaming. First appearing as a Mesopotamian demon, and entering Western consciousness from Bedouin folklore via One Thousand and One Nights, the Ghoul has been presented as devil, shapeshifter, changeling, cannibal, corpse-eater and seductress. A cunning and dangerous adversary in gaming, and a staple in weird fiction from Pickman’s model and the stories that followed it through the work of Caitlin R. Kiernan and more. Come and meet your favorite dweller underground.
The Sins of Our Forebears: the Theme of Inherited Guilt in the Work of HPL. A dominant theme in Lovecraft’s writing is the intergenerational transmission of guilt. Whether supernatural or genetic in origin, Lovecraft posits that we are unable to escape the stain of our ancestors and many characters suffer terribly from the actions or nature of those who have gone before. Our panelists discuss this theme in his work and how it relates to his ideas and family history.
Waiting for Cthulhu: Existential perspectives on the work of H. P. Lovecraft and Other Cosmic Horror Authors. As a philosophical and literary criticism tradition, Existentialism would seem to be a perfect lens for examining the concerns of Cosmic Horror: The angst and crisis of meaning and authenticity that one confronts when experiencing the impossible vastness of an indifferent cosmos. The absurdity of existence. The impossibility of comprehension and understanding tied to a need to find meaning and identity. Our panelists explore the main concerns of Existential philosophy and analyze their presence in the work of Lovecraft and other classic cosmic horror authors.
Beyond Helplessness and Tokenism: The Representation of Disability in the Weird. Horror as a genre has always had a fraught relationship with depictions of disability. Socially constructed attitudes surrounding humanity, wholeness, and value relegate non-normative human physicalities and neurologies to the realm of the horrific, situating those with disabilities as repulsive monsters at worst, or token oracles at best. This panel discusses the breadth of critical disability studies and disability justice within the framework of the Weird, examining the writers, artists, and creatives who utilize the mode and genre to destabilize normative constructions of the human, reject ‘inspiration porn’ narratives, and center people with disabilities.
The Birds. Reptilian, violent, beautiful, strange. Possessed of alien intelligence. They’ve adapted to every environment and every continent and were here a hundred and fifty million years before Homo habilis began using the first known stone tools. It’s no wonder that our avian friends occupy an important role within the weird. Our panelists discuss the use of birds across a range of weird media, including film, art, and literature, with special attention to fiction and poetry.
Central and Eastern European Weird Fiction. The nations of Central and Eastern Europe drawn on related but different cultural traditions, and the period of the Cold War created a unique set of barriers to cultural exchange for decades. Panelists discuss the weird fiction of these nations, including work available in English translation and not.
Clive Barker. As a visual artist, writer, and filmmaker, Clive Barker creates a weird intractable from the body: queer desires, monstrous revelations, and divine abjection place human physicality as a site of both intimacy and otherness. This panel discusses Barker’s work from the transgressive sexualities of his adult-oriented material to the transformative fantasy of his young adult fiction.
Decolonizing the Weird: Weird fiction emerged within a particular place in history, and was informed by Western intellectual traditions. As the English-language cannon has spread, writers from around the globe have responded with literature that challenges the philosophical and historical assumptions of that cannon and drawing on their own cultures. Panelists discuss the international revolution in weird fiction, including critical examination and reinterpretation of existing works, expanding the traditional canon and intellectual history, and telling weird tales that are authentic to diverse cultural traditions.
Deterministic Landscapes: The Role of Psychogeography in Weird Fiction. In literary criticism, psychogeography explores how the physical environment impacts the mind and behavior of the individual. The claustrophobic density of the city, the homogeneity of suburban developments, the vast isolation of the deep woods, Antarctic ice, or open ocean. What horrors emerge when we make a wrong turn or enter an unfamiliar environment? What madness follows when we attempt to exist in places not meant for human occupation? Our panelists discuss the role of place as a driver of psychology and narrative in weird film and literature.
This Film Does (Not) Exist: Film as Subject in Weird Fiction. House of Leaves. Experimental Film. Ring. Flicker. The Grin of the Dark, Memento Mori: The Fathomless Shadows. Lost films, cursed films, filmmakers who touched things better left alone. What makes this concept so compelling? How does it inspire the author and seduce the reader? Our panelists discuss the popularity and use of fictional films and lost footage in weird fiction with classic and contemporary examples.
From Ambergris to Yugoth: The Fungus Among Us. Mind control. Bodily infiltration. Altered states of consciousness. Zombification. Encounters with truly alien species. Fungal horrors abound in weird fiction and film. Our panelists take us on a tour of the strange world of spores, fruiting bodies, and vast clonal colonies, the symbiotes and parasites, toxins and pathogens, that have always occupied an important place in the annals of the weird. A little Mycology and a lot of fiction are on your plate.
Under the Sea: Horrors of the Deep Ocean. The ocean is a deeply hostile environment to humans and contains some of the strangest and least-understood ecosystems on the planet. Crushing pressure. Impenetrable darkness. A vast, unexplored landscape as distant for most of us as the Moon. What secrets does it conceal? Panelists discuss the science of the deep and the weird film and fiction inspired by it.
Welcome to the New Weird: A Beginner’s Guide to New Weird Fiction New to the weird fiction scene? Know a lot, but want to fill in the corners and better understand how it all fits together? Where is the fuzzy boundary that separates “weird fiction” from horror, dark fantasy, and other genres? Join our experts as they provide a survey of New and Contemporary weird fiction, tracing the roots, concerns, trends, and major writers in the field.
A World of Pain: Pessimistic Weird Fiction from Asia, Continental Europe,and the Middle East A discussion of the works of stellar (but under-recognized) writers such as Sadegh Hedayat, Witold Gombrowicz, Bruno Schulz, Mário de Sá-Carneiro, Sakutarō Hagiwara, Leonid Andreyev and others. Panelists discuss their work, their influence on English-language writers, and the publishers (often, small presses and university presses) who have done a good job of getting English translations of their work into print.
Cities of Crystal, Dungeons of Dampness: Mörk Borg, Mothership, Troika!, and Indy Weird Gaming. New avenues for funding and publishing have led to a new wave of weird games for the tabletop. Innovative concepts, boutique settings, and strange worlds abound! Our panelists discuss the weird indy revolution.
Cosmic Horror in films (that do not draw on the work of HPL) Beyond Re-Animator and the Lovecraft mythos, lies a verdant field of cosmic horror films. Films like The Thing, Prince of Darkness, They Remain, Annihilation, The Mouth of Madness and more. Explore with our panel the eldritch and unknowable on the paths all should fear to tread, where knowledge can only bring madness and doom…
The Day the Comics (Almost) Died: The Comic Code Authority and its Impact on Weird and Horror Comics. In response to public outcry about comic books and juvenile delinquency, book burnings, and a Senate Subcommittee, the Comics Magazine Association of America created the Comic Code Authority in 1954. The demand for this stamp of decency killed the horror lines of EC Comics, launched the Warren “Magazine Comics” and underground comic movement, and started a cat-and-mouse game between creatives and censors until being discontinued in 2011. Panelists discuss the history and enforcement of the code, its social context, and its impact on the industry.
Everyone Dies or Goes Insane: Survival and Consequences in Horror Gaming. Horror RPGs such as Call of Cthulhu are characterized as “everyone dies or goes insane” in every game, but in reality, all games should not require tearing up character sheets. This panel explores the options and reasons for character survival. How does the Keeper employ game mechanics and meaningful consequences that are true to theme while encouraging creative problem-solving and decision-making from players?
From the Perspective of the Disease: The Weird Cinema of David Cronenberg. No one does it like Cronenberg, with his unique, often grotesque exploration of the body and the mind. David Paul Cronenberg is a Canadian film director, screenwriter, and actor. He is one of the principal originators of what is commonly known as the body horror genre, with his films exploring visceral bodily transformation, infection, technology, and the intertwining of the psychological with the physical. Join us for a discussion of his work and influence.
The Great Call of Cthulhu Campaigns. Celebrating the fortieth anniversary of the game, we look back at the campaigns that helped sustain the legacy! Call of Cthulhu has long been known for its richly envisioned campaign settings that pit intrepid globe-trotting adventurers against the forces of the Mythos, including Masks of Nyarlothotep, Horror on the Orient Express, Unseen Masters, Beyond the Mountains of Madness and others. Our industry experts discuss the most successful, their influence, and how they have changed across four decades.
Grimdark Fantasy RPGs as Cosmic Horror. Any system can be played dark, but some have brutality, hopelessness, and dystopia baked into their core. What are the challenges and pitfalls of running a grimdark campaign? What systems and mechanics work to reinforce those themes? Our experts discuss systems, rules, tips and methods for keeping the brutal, nihilistic darkness fun at the tabletop, and the relationship between grimdark gaming and the larger philosophy and concerns of weird fiction
Guests of Honor. Please join us as we introduce and celebrate the guests of honor for the NecronomiCon Providence 2022 followed by a discussion with the audience.
The Horrors of Earthdawn. Long before the contemporary indy game revolution, Earthdawn presented a high-fantasy RPG in a world overrun by extra-dimensional Horrors with unknowable goals and intelligences. Our panelists discuss the themes and unique terrors of this universe, its place in table-top gaming history, and its relationship to weird fiction and cosmic horror.
“It was made for me!” The Dark Worlds of Junji Ito. Internationally acclaimed mangaka Junji Ito creates stories of strange obsession, transformation, and contamination unlike any other. Our panelists discuss his work and influences, and his impact as one of the masters of the international weird.
Manifesting the Weird in Three Dimensions. Sculpture occupies, alters, or intrudes upon physical space in ways other art forms do not, making it a unique way to express the emotions, ideas, and concerns of the weird. Using abstract or representational methods, sculptors commemorate and reinterpret, and expand the boundaries of the possible. Our panelists describe the theory and practice of sculptural work, the history and greats of weird sculpture, their work and inspirations and more.
Nightmares and Fog: The Silent Hill Legacy. Silent Hill is one of the most disturbing and innovative horror franchises in console video games. Panel discusses the themes, success, and influence of the franchise.
Not Just Three Acts: Narrative Structure and the Weird. A discussion of the literary theory of structure and various structural theories of narrative as applied to the weird. How does choice of structure help create or undermine the strangeness of Weird fiction? Includes consideration of traditional three- and four- act structures alongside non-linear narratives, mosaics, spirals, wheels, branches, explosions, and parallel and cumulative models, with examples and reference to structures not common in the cannon of Western literature.
Pastiche is Not a Dirty Word: Writing From Existing Material. Classic weird writers often borrowed from their forerunners and freely shared ideas and monsters with friends. The modern weird age has benefited from an interest in authors such as Lovecraft and Chambers as a boom in pastiche writing accompanied works entering the public domain. Why does it sometimes get a bad rap? How do you stay true to existing material while staying original? What is the attraction to writing in someone else’s sandbo
The Weird in Podcast Form. Podcasts are an increasingly dominant media format and may draw listeners to the world of the weird who might otherwise be less engaged. Our panelists discuss the advantages and limitations of the podcast for reviews, discussion, informational deep-dives, and narrative, plus provide industry insights, and highlight their favorites.
The Weird on a Small Color Screen. Fire up the color console and adjust your antenna! Our panelists from 2019’s The Weird on a Black and White Screen return to continue their discussion on the weird television shows from the 70s and 80s, taking the legacies of the classic anthology series of the black and white era and tracing the broadcast weird to when cable and cheap VHS tapes forever changed the content available in our living rooms.
What the Music Tells Us: Weird Music as Narrative. Through recorded history, we have told tales of the strange and supernatural through music. Folk songs, opera, concept albums, and instrumental soundscapes have all been used to explore the weird tale. Our panelists discuss music as narrative as applied to all things strange.
The ‘Zines: the Legacy and Importance of Fanzines.Before the internet, there were the ‘zines. With roots going back to the amateur press movement, fanzines have been a critical source of shared enthusiasm and ideas throughout the history of the weird. Small-run, limited distribution labors of love sustained discourse and niche communities outside the mainstream commercial machines that dominated publishing. Our panelists discuss the history of fanzines in the weird community, their importance and development over time, and the future of the medium.