Miskatonic University is a fictional university located in Arkham, a fictional town in Essex County, Massachusetts. It is named after the Miskatonic River (also fictional). After first appearing in H. P. Lovecraft's 1922 story "Herbert West–Reanimator", the school appeared in numerous Cthulhu Mythos stories by Lovecraft and other writers. The story "The Dunwich Horror" implies that Miskatonic University is a highly prestigious university, on par with Harvard University, and that Harvard and Miskatonic are the two most popular schools for the children of the Massachusetts "Old Gentry". The university also appears in role-playing games and board games based on the mythos.
Lovecraft concocted the word Miskatonic from a mixture of root words from the Algonquian languages. Place-names based on the Algonquian languages are common throughout New England. Anthony Pearsall believes that Lovecraft based the name on the Housatonic River which extends from the Long Island Sound through the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts and western Connecticut.
Miskatonic University is modeled on the northeastern Ivy League universities of Lovecraft's day, perhaps Brown University of his hometown Providence which Lovecraft himself wished to attend. In Lovecraft's stories, the university's student body is implied to be all-male, much like northeastern universities of Lovecraft's time. The only female student mentioned is Asenath Waite, of Lovecraft's "The Thing on the Doorstep" (1937).
To represent Miskatonic University in their film adaptation of The Whisperer in Darkness in 2009, the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society chose Mount Holyoke College. The film uses Pasadena City College for interior scenes of the school. Alan Moore's 2015-17 comic Providence used Saint Anselm College as the "real" Miskatonic University.
Miskatonic University is famous for its collection of occult books. The library holds one of the very few genuine copies of the Necronomicon. Other tomes include Unaussprechlichen Kulten by Friedrich von Junzt and the fragmentary Book of Eibon.
Miskatonic's medical school features in "Herbert West—Reanimator".
Interpretations by other authors and fans differ as to whether mystical and Mythos studies at the University are covert or overt. In the first interpretation, which follows Lovecraftian literary traditions, Miskatonic University is an apparently ordinary school whose occult undercurrent only occasionally breaks the surface. In the second, more common in comedic and RPG works (and in Miskatonic University paraphernalia), Mythos and strange elements are overtly displayed and form part of its campus identity.
The following table lists the professors of Miskatonic University and their respective departments from Lovecraft's stories.
|Dr. Andrew Armitage||Unstated||The Drum, the Doll, and the Zombie|
|Dr. Dan Cain||Hospital||Bride of Re-Animator|
|Randolph Carter||Unstated||"The New Traveller's Almanac"|
Code Name: S.T.E.A.M.
|Professor Alice Derleth||Occult Sciences||"The Collect Call of Cathulhu"|
|Dr. T.W. Erwin||Mathematics||"The Revolution's Fine" in The Avengers vol. 1, #83|
|R. Gabor||University Press||The Fountains of Paradise chapter 11.|
|Dr. Graves||Hospital||Bride of Re-Animator|
|Dr. Carl Hill||Medical School||Re-Animator|
|Ms. Doris Horus||Librarian (as of June 26, 1969)||The Illuminatus! Trilogy|
|Professor Ted Klein||Unstated||"The Collect Call of Cathulhu"|
|Professor Lake||Ocean biology||The Last Lovecraft: Relic of Cthulhu|
|Professor Seneca Lapham||Anthropology||The Lurker at the Threshold|
|Dr. Cyrus Llanfer||Chief Librarian (following Armitage)||"The Return of Hastur"|
|Professor Joshua N. Marsh||Anthropology||The Illuminatus! Trilogy|
|Professor Dominique 'Mo' O'Brien||Philosophy||The Atrocity Archives|
The Jennifer Morgue
The Fuller Memorandum
|Ward Phillips (I)||First President (late 17th century)||The Lurker at the Threshold|
|Ward Phillips (II)||Chief Librarian (early 19th century)||The Lurker at the Threshold|
|Professor Amos Piper||Anthropology||"The Shadow Out of Space"|
|Professor Laban Shrewsbury||Anthropology and philosophy||The Trail of Cthulhu|
|Keith Brian Swerdlov||Archaeology||Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy from Mars|
|Ebenezer Tillinghast||Geology||"The Smoker from the Shadows"|
|Dr. Henry West||Necrobiology||Splatterhouse (2010 video game)|
|Nathaniel Pickman Wingate||Physics||Kamillions|
|Professor Brightmeer||Chemistry||Call of Cthulhu: The Wasted Land|
|Horatio Kharon||Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated (based on The Man from Another Place)|
|Harlan Ellison||Subnuclear Sciences||Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated series finale "Come Undone"|
|Wilmarth Acker||Anthropology||Meddling Kids|
|Phillip Zollicoffer||Professor of Biology||Maplecroft, The Borden Dispatches book 1, by Cherie Priest|
|Dr. Damon Wells||Dean of Anthropology||SCP-4971|
Chaosium Press published several guides to the 1920s Miskatonic University. The first was a lengthy section in 'Arkham Unveiled' (1990) by Keith Herber with others and put a full university setting around existing H. P. Lovecraftian Mythos references. The second was Miskatonic University (1995), a full-length book by Sandy Antunes. Subtitled 'Where Science Meets the Mythos', this edition tried to merge and reconcile the Chaosium setting of 'Arkham Unveiled', the original Mythos sources, and historical 'period' details derived especially from 1920s Boston University, while also adding new items to the setting. A copy of this out-of-print book is in Boston University's special collections archive, and Chaosium granted rights in 1997 to the Miskatonic University website to reuse some of this material for their website. The third was a new edition of 'Miskatonic University' (2005) by 'Sam Johnson & friends' published in late 2005. This edition reworked the previous book and added more mystical and mythos game elements.
- Lovecraft, Selected Letters III, p. 432.
- Harms, Daniel (2008). The Cthulhu mythos encyclopedia (3rd ed.). Lake Orion, MI: Elder Signs Press. p. 181. ISBN 978-1-934501-05-4.
- Pearsall, "Miskatonic River (Valley)", The Lovecraft Lexicon, p. 281.
- Harms, "Miskatonic River", The Cthulhiana Encyclopedia, p. 194.
- Ross Wells. 2002. EXploZion! iUniverse. p. 15
- Pearsall, "Miskatonic University", The Lovecraft Lexicon, p. 281.
- "Lights, Action, Horror at MHC". MHC News & Events. 2009. Archived from the original on 2011-06-07. Retrieved 2010-02-23.
- The Whisperer in Darkness. Dir. Sean Branney. 2011. DVD. Fungi, LLC, 2012. Special Features disc. "The Whisperer Behind the Scenes."
- Lovecraft, Howard P (1980). A History of The Necronomicon. West Warwick, RI: Necronomicon Press. ISBN 978-0-318-04715-7. Archived from the original on June 3, 2008 – via Mythos Tomes.
- A History of The Necronomicon. ISBN 0-318-04715-2., pp. 281–2. (List of professors.)
- Avengers #83 reviewed on the Bronzeagebabies website.
- T.W. Erwin's profile at The Appendix to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe
- "Miskatonic University". website. 1997. Retrieved 2010-02-23.