CFP: Cults, Cthulus, and Klansmen: The (Hi)stories Within Lovecraft Country

A Half-day Online Symposium

May 20, 2021

2020 was a seemingly unprecedented year. A global pandemic erupted even as the US was seized by another wave of anti-Black violence perpetrated by law enforcement and supported by terrifying groups of armed Trump supporters. In the midst of this chaos, Misha Green released the award-winning series Lovecraft Country, based upon the Matt Ruff novel by the same name. The series explores America’s history on interracial, gendered, sexual violence and international violence through the metaphor of encounters with magic-wielding villains and other-worldly creatures. Notably, many of the most impactful and haunting scenes are not those featuring cthulu-like creatures attacking innocents but are rather scenes which recreate a history that is horrifically similar to the nation’s present state. And yet critics nonetheless argued that the show was not “enough like Lovecraft” and failed to replicate his tone and style sufficiently. However, such critiques miss the point: Lovecraft’s sensibilities are exactly what the series seeks to dismantle.

This online symposium, hosted by the Centre for the History of the Gothic at the University of Sheffield, seeks to unpack the history, theory, and sociopolitical commentary neatly woven into the series Lovecraft Country. Remaining mindful of the show as a Horror series, this symposium will evaluate Green’s manipulations of Gothic and Horror tropes in conveying a powerful and complex critique of contemporary America. To this end, we invite brief papers (5-8mins) for sessions which will be held in a roundtable format. We particularly welcome presentations which focus upon the following themes in and/ or related to the series:

The problems of Lovecraft’s (and his successors) ideologies

  • The politics/ centrality of intersectionality
  • The challenges of adaptation
  • Ethno-weird writing as (corrective) fan fiction
  • Histories of anti-minority violence
  • The “magic” of white privilege
  • The politics of violence
  • Feminist Politics 
  • Queer Politics
  • Ancestral Trauma
  • Gothic Afrofuturism

Please submit a maximum 300-word abstract with a title, list of keywords, and 100-word bio to maisha.wester@sheffield.ac.uk by March 15. Please use the following for your email’s subject line: “Lovecraft Country Symposium abstract”.