Literary Representations of Hell Sample Syllabus

Note: This is a sample syllabus. The real, updated syllabus is located at, which is password-protected and is available for students and guests only.

U32 325—Literary Representations of Hell
Washington University University College

Spring 2003
Tuesday 6—8:30 p.m.
Ridgely 219

Instructor: Scott Granneman

Course Description

This course will examine different representations of Hell in Eastern and Western literary and religious texts. By studying closely the concept of Hell, students will investigate artistic influences, compare different religions and literature, and examine individual and cultural value systems. Some of the authors and texts we will read and discuss include Gilgamesh, Homer, Virgil, Ovid, Augustine, The Quran, Dante, Chaucer, Milton, Baudelaire, Wilfred Owen, and "The Far Side".

Required Texts

Readings will consist of epics, poems, prose, religious works, plays, philosophical screeds, cartoons, newspaper stories, and ephemera.

Much of our material is available freely in the public domain, and can either be found here on this site or through links from this site to other Internet resources. Unfortunately, however, due to changes in United States copyright law recently enacted by Congress at the behest of large media companies, some material that was, or should be, available in the public domain is not. This copyrighted material will be available under the rights of fair use, however, to students in this class.


Your grade will be based on the following factors:

Grades will be based on an average of the above as follows:

100 A+
94-99 A
89-93 A-
86-88 B+
83-85 B
79-82 B-
76-78 C+
73-75 C
69-72 C-
66-68 D+
63-65 D
59-62 D-
0-58 F

Policy regarding academic dishonesty: This course will follow Washington University's policies concerning academic dishonesty. Academic dishonesty will result in failure for the assignment in question and/or referral to the college's Academic Integrity Office, which has discretion to impose a stricter penalty. While academic dishonesty includes cheating on exams and quizzes, it also includes plagiarism in written assignments. Plagiarism is not only passing off someone else's work as your own, but also giving your work to someone else to pass off as their own. It also includes submitting work from another course. While I strongly encourage you to discuss your work with each other in and out of class, and while you may research issues together, your writing should be your own. The papers you submit must be your work alone, and must include citations to all references in your work. Please include the URL, or Web address, for articles and resources found on the Internet.

Accommodation of disabilities: If you have a disability that might affect your ability to complete the required assignments, please contact me during the first week of class to discuss an accommodation.


It is paramount that we respect each other online, in both email and the discussion group. Follow this simple rule: disagree with the idea, but not the person. In other words, it's OK to say "That's a bad idea, because …", and it's not OK to say "You're a bad/stupid/inconsiderate person, because …". If you have an issue with a classmate's behavior online, please bring it to me privately by emailing me at If you'd like to find out more, please feel free to read The Core Rules of Netiquette, by Virginia Shea.


Jan. 14 ~ Introductions. Tabloids. Definitions. Personal ideas.
Assignments for 14 January 2003

Jan. 21 ~ Native American & South/Central American.
Assignments for 21 January 2003

Jan. 28 ~ China, Japan, & India.
Assignments for 28 January 2003
Presentation: Catherine

Feb. 6 ~ The Ancient Near East.
Assignments for 6 February 2003

Feb. 13 ~ Greece and Rome I.
Assignments for 13 February 2003

Feb. 20 ~ Greece & Rome II.
Assignments for 20 February 2003

Feb. 27 ~ Greece & Rome III. Judaism.
Assignments for 25 February 2003
Presentation: Brent

Mar. 4 ~ Spring Break.

Mar. 11 ~ Christianity.
Assignments for 11 March 2003

Mar. 18 ~ Zoroastrianism. Islam.
Assignments for 20 March 2003
Presentation: Robyn

Mar. 25 ~ The Middle Ages.
"Assignments for 27 March 2003"
Presentation: Isabel

Apr. 1 ~ Dante I.
"Assignments for 1 April 2003"
Presentation: Erin

Apr. 8 ~ Dante II. English Renaissance.
"Assignments for 8 April 2003"
Presentation: Ryan

Apr. 15 ~ 17th-19th Centuries.
"Assignments for 15 April 2003"
Presentation: DJ

Apr. 22 ~ 20th Century I.
"Assignments for 22 April 2003"

Apr. 29 ~ 20th Century II.
"Assignments for 29 April 2003"

May 6 ~ Conclusions.
"Assignments for 6 May 2003"
Presentation: Kemper

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