“Magna Mater”: A new MA thesis on H. P. Lovecraft’s fantastic fiction

Magna Mater: Women and Eugenic Thought in the Work of H.P. Lovecraft is a brand new Masters thesis by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (University of British Columbia) which posits that H. P. Lovecraft’s depiction of women expresses the author’s underlying fear about reproductive “agents of biological chaos” who threaten to bring about “the collapse of society under the weight of monstrous Others.”

According to the document’s abstract:

H.P. Lovecraft is considered one of the most influential and important speculative writers of the 20th century. Despite the eugenic concerns inherent in many of his stories, much of his output has not been analyzed against the pervasive “scientific racism” of his time. This thesis looks at Lovecraft’s depictions of women and sees them as strongly related to eugenic thought, representing in various ways the biological dangers associated with unfit women. Lovecraft’s women embody the worries of miscegenation, show the results of the unfit giving birth, and ultimately showcase the collapse of society under the weight of monstrous Others. Therefore, though Lovecraft does not feature many women in his stories, he nevertheless manages to construct them as agents of biological chaos, much in the same way eugenicist thought commonly portrays unfit women as highly dangerous to the fabric of the nation.

The full 70-page thesis is readable online as part of the University of British Columbia Library’s open collections. Congratulations to Silvia Moreno-Garcia on her Master of Arts in science and technology studies.


Richard Kaczynski

Richard Kaczynski is the author of the biography Perdurabo: The Life of Aleister Crowley (2002; rev exp ed 2010), the history Forgotten Templars: The Untold Origins of Ordo Templi Orientis (2012), the novel The Billionth Monkey (2015), Panic in Detroit: The Magician and the Motor City (2019), along with a bunch of other books, articles, and chapters that you can read about at his website, www.richard-kaczynski.com.

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