Literary Copernicus: The Cosmic Fiction of H.P. Lovecraft

Disclaimer: The information on this page is provided as an overview. The course outline, readings, and assignments may be subject to change in the final syllabus as determined by the lecturer and/or preceptors.

New for 2023: five new lectures and an updated reading list, covering the latest Lovecraft reactions and scholarship. The new lectures will be delivered live by Dr. Gabriel Schenk and Dr. Maggie Parke, replacing previously-recorded lectures in Weeks 1, 2, and 12.

What inspired Lovecraft’s imagination? How has Lovecraft’s work impacted popular culture today?

In tales such as “The Call of Cthulhu” and At the Mountains of Madness, H.P. Lovecraft – the disciple of Poe and the champion of the Weird – pioneered a new kind of fiction. Fueled by an astronomer’s insights and an antiquarian’s aesthetic, Lovecraft turned his readers’ focus “from man and his little world and his gods, to the stars and the black and unplumbed gulfs of intergalactic space,” leading author and critic Fritz Leiber, Jr. to dub him “A Literary Copernicus.” More than seventy-five years after Lovecraft’s death, his path-breaking work is more popular and influential than ever. Join award-winning scholar Dr. Amy H. Sturgis as she explores Lovecraft’s stories and the meaning behind them, the shared universe of his mythos, and the lasting impact of his cosmic vision on the contemporary landscapes of literature and popular culture.

Weekly Schedule

This course includes two 90-minute pre-recorded lectures per week with one 60-minute discussion session as assigned. Please remember to indicate your availability in the Goldberry registration system.

Course Schedule

Week 1 – Traditions and Foundations

  • “Supernatural Horror in Literature” by H. P. Lovecraft
  • “The Willows” by Algernon Blackwood

Week 2 – “With All My Conflicted Feelings” / Responses to Lovecraft’s Racism

  • The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor Lavalle
  • “One Day, Soon” by Lavie Tidhar
  • “The Adventurer’s Wife” by Premee Mohamed

Week 3 – “The Essence of Horror” / Beginnings

  • “Dagon”
  • “The Statement of Randolph Carter”
  • “Beyond the Wall of Sleep”
  • “The Picture in the House”

Week 4 – “More Hideous Than Realities” / Theory and Defense

  • “Herbert West: Reanimator”
  • “The Hound”
  • “The Shunned House”

Week 5 – “Black Seas of Infinity” / The Seeds of the Mythos

  • “The Unnameable”
  • “The Call of Cthulhu”
  • “The Silver Key”

Week 6 – “A Terrible Movement Alive in the World” / Science and Antiquarianism

  • The Case of Charles Dexter Ward
  • “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward,” The Lovecraft Investigations eps 1–10, BBC Radio 4

Week 7 – “Beyond All Nature As We Know It” / The Cosmic Turn

  • “The Rats in the Walls”
  • “The Colour Out of Space”

Week 8 – “Undimensioned and To Us Unseen” / Analyses and Adaptations

  • “The Dunwich Horror”
  • “The Whisperer in Darkness”

Week 9 – “This Untrodden and Unfathomed Austral World” / Scientific Realism

  • At the Mountains of Madness

Week 10 – “The Idea of Wormy Decay” / The Lovecraft Circle

  • “The Shadow Over Innsmouth”
  • “The Dreams in the Witch House”

Week 11 – “Less Rational and Commonplace Theories” / Disciples and Descendants

  • “The Shadow Out of Time”
  • “The Haunter of the Dark”

Week 12 – Lovecraft’s Afterlife

  • Color Out of Space (2019), directed by Richard Stanley
  • Lovecraft Country (2020), episodes 1 and 2, developed by Misha Green

Required Texts

The Amazon links are provided for convenience only, and we encourage students to purchase texts wherever they wish.

Access to other texts will be provided through the classroom. The Case of Charles Dexter Ward audio drama can be accessed through the BBC website.

Course History

This course has been offered in the following semesters.

Fall 2023Dr. Gabriel Schenk
Spring 2019Dr. Gabriel Schenk & Dr. Maggie Parke
Summer 2015Jessica O’Brien

Course artwork adapted from an original illustration by Elia Fernández. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

H.P. Lovecraft Literary Copernicus

This course explores the work of H.P. Lovecraft and his impact on literature and popular culture. Students will study the foundations of Lovecraft’s writing, the meaning behind his works, along with his cosmic vision and legacy.

START: August 28, 2023

DURATION: 12 Weeks

ID: LITB 5306