Heaven and Hell: From Dante to Milton and Beyond

Through the analysis of influential examples, this course studies the creation and significances of literary representations of heaven and hell. 

Sandro Botticelli's La Carte de l'Enfer

The ultimate end of human life resides in landscapes defined by aspiration or terror, punishment or reward. Thus, heaven and hell are places frequently conjured by the literary imagination. While the course will primarily look at two extremely influential works of literature by Dante and Milton, students will also consider analogues in Homer, Virgil, Spenser and other authors, as well as more recent attempts to imagine and construct a heaven or a hell. And finally, students will design their own heaven or hell.

Overall, we'll ask questions about how these literary imaginings enable us to think about the nature of virtue, crime and punishment, the nature of suffering, the nature of death, the nature of evil and its theological justification, how writers imagine and construct whole universes and what pleasures and terrors arise in the contemplation of heaven and hell.


Section Instructor Format Schedule start date
MLSC 556 Joseph Campana On-campus 6:15 - 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 4, 2018

INSTRUCTOR: Joseph Campana
FORMAT: On-campus
SCHEDULE: 6:15 - 9:30 p.m.
START DATE: Apr. 04, 2018

Instructor: Joseph Campana

Joseph Campana, Ph.D., associate professor and Alan Dugald McKillop Chair in English at Rice University, is an award-winning poet, arts writer and widely published scholar of Renaissance literature. He is the author of three collections of poetry, “The Book of Faces,” “Natural Selections,” which received the Iowa Poetry Prize, and “The Book of Life,” forthcoming. Appearing in Slate, Kenyon Review, Poetry, Conjunctions and Colorado Review, his poems have won awards from Prairie Schooner and The Southwest Review. He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Houston Arts Alliance and the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference. Dr. Campana holds a doctorate in English from Cornell University.

Term: Spring/Summer 2018

Start Date: Apr. 04, 2018

End Date: May 30, 2018

Schedule: 6:15 - 9:30 p.m.

Length: Nine Wednesdays with two extra classes to be scheduled

Location: Rice campus

Note: This course is part of the Graduate Liberal Studies program. For more information on how to apply, click ADMISSIONS below.

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