Department Chair

Lisa Berglund, Ph.D., Chair and Professor of English

Date of Award

8-2013

Access Control

Campus-Only Access

Degree Name

English, M.A.

Department

English Department

Advisor

Jennifer D. Ryan, Ph.D., Associate Professor of English

Department Home page

http://english.buffalostate.edu/

First Reader

Jennifer D. Ryan, Ph.D., Associate Professor of English

Second Reader

David N. Ben-Merre, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of English

Abstract

Within this thesis, I examine the historical background as well as the philosophical beliefs that inspired the “weird fiction” of author Howard Phillips Lovecraft. In particular, I focus on how his life experiences led to the formation of his own literary philosophy, that of “Cosmic Indifferentism.” Seemingly based in part on the theories of Post-Enlightenment thinkers, the Gothic Sublime, and Lovecraft’s own simultaneous fascination with and fear of the scientific progress of mankind, Cosmic Indifferentism posits that the universe is monstrously indifferent to the plight of the human race. As a result, humanity is considered under a Lovecraftian lens to bevastly insignificant when compared to the grand scheme of the cosmos. In the decades since his death, Lovecraft’s philosophy has been heavily misconstrued. Specifically, through an examination of several films which purport to be direct adaptations of the author’s short stories and novellas, I argue that such films either misinterpret or simply ignore the key tenets of Cosmic Indifferentism which in turn serve as the foundation for Lovecraft’s “Mythos.”Conversely, I also posit that a number of films, while not direct adaptations of any Lovecraft story, nevertheless successfully adhere to the author’s focus on cosmic horror and humanity’s insignificance.

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