Date of Thesis

Spring 2021


Literary representations of existentialism demonstrate the movement’s efficacy as a tool for ideological and personal exploration, particularly as it pertains to issues of identity-formation, the Other, and rising concerns about modernized life. Despite their differences in genre, location, and time period, both H.P. Lovecraft and Fyodor Dostoevsky in their fiction greatly emphasize facets of existentialism as a response to their cultural concerns about modernity. They highlight complex relationships between socio-political concerns, philosophy, and literature in their different uses of existentialist themes. This study places both Dostoevsky’s Christian existentialism and Lovecraft’s nihilistic cosmicism within the existing spectrum of existential thought. The first chapter considers three of Lovecraft’s novellas from The Cthulhu Mythos to argue that Lovecraft’s deep concerns about Otherness demonstrate the overlap between his nihilistic cosmicism, and the notion of existential anxiety as described by Heidegger. The second chapter explores the Christian existentialism in Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground as the intersection of an ascetic Christian tradition, and the Russian philosophical concept of sobornost—which emphasizes ideas similar to Kierkegaard’s views. The final chapter places both authors and their individual concerns about modernity in conversation with one another, to highlight the fluidity of the philosophical movement as a response to modernity.


existentialism, christian existentialism, nihilism, sobornost, Lovecraft, Dostoevsky

Access Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Type

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Paul Siewers

Second Advisor

Katherine Ward

Third Advisor

Joe Scapellato