HON 201 Literary Hell: Comparative Narratives of Descent - 1 credit hour
CRN: 13760, 3:00 – 3:50 Wednesdays, Taught by R. Ryder
Representations of the underworld can be found throughout both Eastern and Western literary traditions, and not all of them conform to the typical notion of a place of torment and damnation, fire and brimstone. This course will focus on “underworld literature,” those texts that do not necessarily depict Hell – although some certainly do – but which are nevertheless deeply concerned with what lies under the surface of the Earth. Beginning with Plato’s cave, we will continue with different textual representations of the underworld, from the Orpheus myth and Dante’s Inferno to the texts of Milton, E.T.A. Hoffmann, Jules Verne, Dostoevsky, H. G. Wells and Sartre, among others. We will also consider the depiction of Hell and the underworld in films such as Scorsese’s Apocalypse Now and comics like Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman series. We will consider not only the ways in which the underworld is determined by the political, historical, and spiritual circumstances of this world, but also what promises and punishments the underworld has to offer beyond the world in which we live.
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