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Title: Gothic topographies : New England and other spaces in the work of H.P. Lovecraft and Stephen King
Author: Lippert, Cornelia Marie Erika
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2013
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H. P. Lovecraft is a seminal writer in twentieth-century American gothic, and among the many authors influenced by his work is Stephen King, the best- . known contemporary horror novelist. Between them, these two figures define modern American gothic horror fiction and they have one obvious common trait: they are both influenced by similar geographical roots and make the notion of place an integral PaIt of their writing. As New England is their native region, their works often focus on its landscapes and specificities. Its comparative antiquity and initial centrality to America, as well as its climate and topography, predispose New England to literary gothicising. In fiction of the gothic genre the past tends to encroach on the present, and in harking back to the country's history, Lovecraft's and King's fiction connects to wider American societal anxieties. Both authors synthesise their lived - often regional - experience of place with gothicised notions of setting to create their own fictional topographies through which they engage with wider American gothic tropes. I select and examine four of the most illustrative topographies both authors use to achieve this in their work: first, the wilderness and related notions of America as virgin soil; second, the small town - a particular favourite of both Lovecraft and King - as an ostensibly idyllic setting harbouring decay and corruption; third, the subterranean and the submarine, drawing the reader's attention to what is under the surface; and last, the threshold and its connotations of the liminal and transgression. Comparative analyses of Lovecraft's and King's work are rare, and virtually no in-depth study has been undeltaken with specific reference to their construction of gothic settings. This is surprising in the face of the spatial turn in modern scholarship. I address this neglected aspect of gothic criticism in my thesis and show how Lovecraft's and King's gothic topographies lend themselves to engaging with American concerns and anxieties, such as crises of identity and authenticity, feelings of guilt, and the fear of transgression.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available