Summer 2019 - PHIL 331 D100

Selected Topics (3)

Cosmic Horror & Pessimism

Class Number: 6001

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo 2:30 PM – 5:20 PM
    WMC 3253, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    As stated by department at time of offering.



May be repeated for credit.


Selected Topics: Cosmic Horror & Pessimism  

Prerequisites: One of: PHIL 100W, PHIL 201 or PHIL 203; or permission of the instructor.

If someone asks you, “How do you feel about life, in general?” would you respond by saying “IT IS MALIGNANTLY USELESS”? If you would, you might be a pessimist! Do you find the nature of reality itself more horrifying than anything supernatural could ever be? Then you might enjoy reading cosmic horror fiction!

In this course we will dive into the development of a subgenre of fiction known as ‘cosmic horror’ and its relationship with certain philosophical views. Over the course of the semester we will read a selection of short stories in the genre of horror and weird fiction, primarily from H.P. Lovecraft and Thomas Ligotti. We will interpret and interrogate some of the genre’s central themes, motivations and the philosophical outlook that informs it. In doing so we will examine works from all over the landscape of philosophy dealing with pessimism, nihilism, stoicism, the absurd, theories of the self, anti-natalism, luck, and the nature of consciousness.




  • Attendance & Participation (in class writing assignments) 10%
  • 3 Short Reflection Papers (500 words) 30%
  • Research Paper (1500 - 1750 words) 60%



Thomas Ligotti – The Conspiracy Against the Human Race   ISBN-10: 0143133144

Thomas Ligotti – Songs of A Dead Dreamer & Grimscribe    ISBN-10: 0143107763

Thomas Ligotti – Teatro Grottesco    ISBN-10: 0753513749

H.P. Lovecraft – The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories    ISBN-10: 0141182342

H.P. Lovecraft – At the Mountains of Madness: The Definitive Edition    ISBN-10: 0812974417

Department Undergraduate Notes:

Thinking of a Philosophy Major or Minor? The Concentration in Law and Philosophy? The Certificate in Ethics? The Philosophy and Methodology of Science Certificate?
Contact the PHIL Advisor at   More details on our website: SFU Philosophy

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University.