Call for Papers: The Medial Afterlives of H.P. Lovecraft: Comic, Film, Podcast, TV, Video Game

deadline for submissions: 
August 31, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
Tim Lanzendörfer
contact email: 

The Medial Afterlives of H.P. Lovecraft:
Comic, Film, Podcast, TV, Video Game

Ed. Max José Dreysse Passos de Cavalho & Tim Lanzendörfer

We are seeking essays dealing with medial adaptations of the work of H.P. Lovecraft. Amidst the recent Lovecraft renaissance, the adaptation of Lovecraft’s stories, but also of “Lovecraftian” themes and motifs, into various kinds of audiovisual narratives has proliferated and become vastly successful in a number of guises. Critical discussions of this phenomenon, however, have often been restricted to the identification of Lovecraft’s themes, adaptation’s fidelity to Lovecraft’s texts, and the influence of Lovecraft on contemporary horror and weird fiction more generally. The proposed collection will expand the discussion of Lovecraft adaptation by interrelating strongly on the concrete formal and medial choices of adaptations with the specific demands (if there are any) of Lovecraft(ian) fiction. Departing from a theoretical discussion that has seen Lovecraft as either congenial to adaptation or entirely resistant to it, it aims to understand Lovecraftian adaptation as a means of negotiating different ways of representing the unrepresentable, and to question the notion of the unrepresentable itself. Lovecraftian adaptation goes beyond its own relation to Lovecraft’s fiction, and helps us understand the respective affordances of written fiction versus audio visual media, permitting us not just to see the peculiarities of Lovecraft better, but also to ask fundamental media-theoretical questions.

We are looking for essays that address the question of Lovecraft adaptation in visual, aural, and mixed media: professional and amateur films, TV series, podcasts, (video) games, comics, and other media. Media of interest may be “direct” adaptations of Lovecraft’s source material or those called “Lovecraftian,” and we encourage discussion of this latter term especially with regards to the question of what, if anything, gets “adapted” in so encompassing a term. Among the texts we are interested in are, for instance, the films produced by the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society, the German Die Farbe, or The Color Out of Space (2020), but also older adaptations; radio plays and podcasts such as British Radio 4’s The Whisperer in Darkness (2019-2020), but also things like Tanis (2015-) or The White Vault (2017-); video games such as the Dead Space Series (2008-2013), Alan Wake (2010), Bloodborne (2015), At the Mountains of Madness (2016, still in early access), The Call of Cthulhu (2018), or Moons of Madness (2019), as well as older games such as Alone in the Dark (1992); the large number of Lovecraft and Lovecraftian comics, such as Alan Moore’s Providence series or Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s Locke & Key (2008-2013). All of these are very much inter alia; we are looking for a wide variety of source texts.

Among the topics we are interested in are media-philosophical discussions of the problem of Lovecraft(ian) adaptation; interpretative readings of Lovecraft(ian) fiction; the affordances of medial forms (including their capacity to be both expansive and limited in their relationship to Lovecraft); the relationship between Lovecraft’s medial afterlives and the market; the question of Lovecraft and contemporary philosophy as reflected in the media texts; what Lovecraft adaptation can tell us about adaptation more generally; what is named by “Lovecraftian” in these texts; and a variety of other topics that address the complex of questions sketched above, ideally interrelating several of these issues. Especially when you aim to propose a “Lovecraftian” text, we would appreciate a rationale for this determination.

We are looking for 300-500 word abstracts and a short biography, to be submitted by August 31, 2020, to lanzendo@uni-mainz.de and maxdreys@uni-mainz.de. We will collect the most promising abstracts into a coherent volume addressing the problems laid out above, and will propose the collection to Palgrave Macmillan’s series Palgrave Studies in Adaptation and Visual Culture, who have already expressed an interest in the project. Finished essays of about 7000 words are expected around June 2021; details to be cleared later. Please forward this CfP to interested parties.