Hauntings of Human Nature: An Evolutionary Critique of King's The Shining

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The central conflicts of Stephen King’s horror novel The Shining are rooted in human nature and reflect evolutionarily recurrent adaptive problems—the problem of balancing conflicting evolved motives, such as motives for selfish status striving versus motives for affiliative nurturing behavior, and the problem of surviving the hostile forces of nature. Moreover, the supernatural elements of the novel resonate with evolved intuitions about non-material, moral forces at work in the world. That is why the novel continues to engage readers worldwide. Most critics, however, have overlooked or distorted the psychological underpinnings of the novel and the crucial function of the supernatural elements in the meaning structure of the novel. Hence we need an evolutionary psychological perspective which builds on recent findings in the sciences of human nature to account for the novel’s meaning, effects, and continued popularity.
Original languageEnglish
JournalStyle
Volume51
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)76-87
Number of pages12
ISSN0039-4238
StatePublished - 2017

    Research areas

  • Stephen King, The Shining, Horror literature, Biocultural criticism, Literary Darwinism

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