Why the World Is a Better Place with Stephen King in It: An Evolutionary Perspective

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The bestselling author Stephen King is famous for his scary stories. He has terrified and delighted millions of readers with his horror fiction, but he continues to face indifference or even hostility from parts of the critical establishment, predominantly because of the stigma associated with the horror genre. However, I argue from the perspective of evolutionary literary theory that the horror genre fulfills an important psychological function as threat simulation. King is temperamentally drawn to dark subject matter, and he uses this subject matter to investigate the complexities of human nature and the social world. Through interpretive analysis of two of King’s most famous novels, Pet Sematary (1983) and It (1986), I argue that King uses the elements of horror not just to provide threat simulations for his readers, but also to give readers psychological, social, and moral insight through imaginative simulation.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEvolutionary Perspectives on Imaginative Culture
EditorsJoseph Carroll, Mathias Clasen, Emelie Jonsson
Number of pages17
Place of publicationCham
Publication date2020
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-46189-8
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-46190-4
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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