Habitat of Stones

Now available from Tebot Bach

Selected by Mark Irwin for the 2015 Patricia Bibby First Book Award, Habitat of Stones charts the borderlands between various gods and their creations: the masks and machines, stories and visions, that sometimes outstrip their inventors.

Praise for Habitat of Stones

‘In Ezra Dan Feldman’s luminously postmodern Habitat of Stones, “omens are aerial,” clouds thicken – in a deliciously precise observation – “like marble cake,” and “the arrogant man” (having “mistaken a bathtub for a grave”) discovers that love’s true catastrophe is when it brings equanimity. He hopes, in a line that gives this brilliant collection its title, “to restore the natural habitat of stones.” And thus is the poetry in this startling debut collection – clear, without giving up its mystery, ferociously whimsical, the wry and gorgeous language taking us places we’d never imagine without Feldman’s bold and capacious vision.’

— Cynthia Hogue, author of Revenance

‘Exposing patriarchal and capitalistic practices that often cripple society, Ezra Dan Feldman’s Habitat of Stones reveals the symptoms of living in a post-industrial and illusional, high-tech world: “He’s taken the world for a machine, a baby for a doll, a gun for a candy bar, which he offered to everyone. He once mistook a hammer for his own hand. Once he made love to a wall.”

‘Finally, Habitat of Stones directs us back to the natural world that recharges the human psyche, where a limb touched “touches you back / electrically; you’ll feel it moving in itself ten billion times / faster than a continental shelf.”‘

— Mark Irwin

Research

I will be a Visiting Assistant Professor of English at Williams College, beginning in Fall 2017.

My Ph.D. dissertation at Cornell University, “Flat Narratology: Surface, Depth, and Speculation in Contemporary Metafiction,” argues for the narrative significance of phrases, frames, and events on a par with character, setting, and plot. To analyze metafictions – fictions that formally or explicitly comment on their own telling – by Colson Whitehead, Margaret Atwood, and Don DeLillo, I develop “flat narratology,” a method of reading textual objects of different scales as equally important nodes in a narrative network.

I argue, for example, that the arrival or appearance of a single, repeated phrase in DeLillo’s The Body Artist becomes the novel’s crucial action – not Rey Robles’s suicide or Lauren Hartke’s performance.

In contrast to critics who have studied how metafictions destabilize their narrators and characters, I emphasize how such texts imbue objects of different natures and different sizes with narrative impetus. This approach draws on recent work in philosophy and the social sciences on nonhuman objects’ agency.

My interests include:

Narrative Studies
Character
Creative and Expository Writing
Science Studies
Speculative Realism
Speculative Fiction

I have begun a second research project, on nonhuman narration. This project emerges from the intersection of my research on contemporary metafictions with my recent article, “Weird Weather: Nonhuman Narration and Unmoored Feelings in Charlotte Brontë’s Villette” (Victorians Journal of Literature and Culture 130). Villette’s formal complexities anticipate contemporary narratorial experiments as various as J.M. Coetzee’s Diary of a Bad Year, Chang Rae Lee’s On Such a Full Sea, and Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad. I present such experiments as efforts to seed fictions with hybrid forms that reflect our historical moment, when global technologies challenge the borders of our states, economies, and persons.

Teaching

I have taught college level literature, expository writing, and creative writing for more than a decade. These courses emphasized literature’s interpretive richness, the value of clear expression, and the importance of reading and writing skills to a fully committed ethical and civic life.

I am presently a teaching fellow in Harvard’s Department of the History of Science. In Fall 2016 I led three sections of Professor Matthew Hersch’s “An American Way of War: Technology and Warfare.” In the Spring of 2017 I am head TF for Hersch’s “The World We Made: Technology and Society.”

As an instructor I foster cultural inclusivity, full access to education, and mentorship across a diverse student body. In my classrooms, we discuss the social construction of knowledge and the forces (e.g., imperialism, colonialism, capitalism, racism, sexism, homophobia) that presently and historically have shaped literary canons, reading and writing practices, and literary and historical criticism.

Because students from underrepresented groups face daily challenges that include micro-aggressions, discrimination, and unfamiliarity with the norms of academic culture, I strive to communicate my course expectations transparently, to welcome students’ personal engagement with my courses’ topics and materials, and to encourage students to avail themselves of campus resources – especially by meeting individually with all of their instructors.

Courses taught at Cornell University
Spring 2015 Expository Writing: Terrors of Time Travel
Fall 2014 Expository Writing: Tools for Time Travel
Spring 2014 First-Year Writing Seminar: Tools for Time Travel
Fall 2013 First-Year Writing Seminar: Tools for Time Travel
Spring 2009 Introduction to Creative Writing: Marrying the World Fall
2008 First-Year Writing Seminar: America in Fact, America in Fiction Fall
2008 First-Year Writing Seminar: Linked Stories Spring
2008 Introduction to Creative Writing: Writing about Thinking Fall
2007 Introduction to Creative Writing: Inventing Gods Spring
2007 First-Year Writing Seminar: Language and Chaos Fall
2006 First-Year Writing Seminar: Imaginative Argument in English Literature

Other Teaching Experience
Teaching Fellow, Harvard University, “The World We Made: Technology and Society,” Fall 2016
Teaching Fellow, Harvard University, “An American Way of War: Technology and Warfare,” Fall 2016
Teaching Assistant, Cornell Writing in Rome, Summer 2009
Teaching Assistant, Cornell Writing in Rome, Summer 2008
Teaching Assistant, Cornell, “Great Books,” Spring 2007
Teacher, Stanton College Preparatory School, Jacksonville, FL, 2003-2004
Factotum, Telluride Association Summer Program, Ithaca, NY, 2000

Bio

Ezra Dan Feldman will be a Visiting Assistant Professor of English at Williams College beginning in Fall 2017. His book, Habitat of Stones was selected by Mark Irwin for the Patricia Bibby First Book Award, and is published by Tebot Bach (2017).