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From Poe to South Park: The Influence and Development of Lovecraft’s ‘Cosmic Horror’ in American Culture

Christian Perwein orcid id ; Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz

Puni tekst: engleski pdf 579 Kb

str. 96-105

preuzimanja: 635



H.P. Lovecraft’s ‘Cosmic Horror’ has been a staple of horror and gothic fiction, and therefore American culture, for more than 80 years. In this paper, I examine the development of the genre of horror, starting with Edgar Allen Poe’s influence, and trace its development up to contemporary popular American culture exemplified by the TV show South Park. While Lovecraft’s material has always been drawing from the same concept of the fear of the unknown and human powerlessness in the face of greater forces, the context, sources and reasons for this powerlessness have constantly changed over the decades. In this paper I offer an examination of where this idea of ‘Cosmic Horror’ originally came from, how Lovecraft developed it further and, ultimately, how American culture has adapted the source material to fit a contemporary context. By contrasting Lovecraft’s early works with Poe’s, I shed light on the beginnings of the sub-genre before taking a look at the height of ‘Cosmic Horror’ in Lovecraft’s most famous texts of the Cthulhu myth and ultimately look at a trilogy of South Park episodes to put all of this into a modern American perspective. By doing so, I reveal how Lovecraft’s tales and the underlying philosophy have always been an important part of American culture and how they continue to be relevant even today.

Ključne riječi

cosmic horror; gothic; Lovecraft

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