Date of Award
Dr. Kevin D. Marti
Dr. Doreen Piano
Kenneth John Rayes
Dr. Lisa R. Verner
Dante's Inferno defined hell in Western literature for centuries; it was a physical place for sinners, they were subjected to physical torments, and it was in the afterlife. Dante’s depiction was firmly rooted in Christian theology. However, as fears and morals change, ideas of hell evolve as well. With the popularity of the zombie and other apocalypse narratives, these ideas return to the notion of physical torment and earthly places. In poetry, novels, theater, television, and film, writers examine different interpretations of hell, punishment, and redemption as metaphors for modern sins. In Sartre’s Huis clos, hell is a windowless room, and the tortures are inflicted psychologically by other people. In Romero’s Living Dead films, hell comes to earth, and the torments are both physical and psychological. Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer shows how hellish the common experiences of high school and growing up can be. Cormac McCarthy’s The Road examines hell as a lack of place, a relentless journey without end. In these and other works, the concept of hell is reinvented and replaced by new ideas, but the influence of the past iterations shapes the new landscapes.
Whitman, Isabelle M., "Dante, Damnation, and The Undead: How The Conception of Hell Has Changed in Western Literature from Dante's Inferno to The Zombie Apocalypse" (2015). University of New Orleans Theses and Dissertations. 1997.
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