Online Midwinter Seminar
Fantasy Goes to Hell: Depictions of Hell in Modern Fantasy Texts
Co-chairs: Janet Brennan Croft and Erin Giannini
Hell in modern fantasy is usually a far cry from traditional depictions in major world religions — the dry and dusty hells of ancient
Mesopotamia and the Classical world, the ambiguous Hel of the Norse, the fiery pit and everlasting torment of medieval Christianity and Islam,
the purgatorial hells of reincarnative religions like Buddhism and Hinduism. How do creators of fantasy imagine Hell differently?
And more importantly, why? What do these depictions have to tell us about what is hellish in our modern world?
In addition to hosting this Online Midwinter Seminar, the co-chairs will be co-editing a special issue of Mythlore
, in which they intend
to present selected papers presented at this seminar.
CALL FOR PAPERS
The CFP deadline is November 15, 2022.
The Mythopoeic Society invites paper submissions for an online conference that focuses on the various depictions of the concept of hell
in modern fantasy works. Aspects of this topic might include but are certainly not limited to any of the following:
- The mystical spiritual descent: what can be gained from a descent to hell
- The escape from hell: What is saved, and what is left behind
- The harrowing of hell: the rescue of others from hell
- The pact with hell: self-damnation or turning the tables
- The intersection of race, racism, and hell
- Hellish places: Mordor, Charn, the Upside Down, the post-apocalyptic world
- The influence of fantastic ur-texts about Hell: Aeneas’s visit in The Aeneid; Dante’s Inferno;
Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus; Milton’s Paradise Lost; Jean-Paul Sartre’s No Exit;
the art of Hieronymus Bosch; Mozart’s Don Giovanni
- “This IS the Bad Place!”: The primary world as Hell
Papers from a variety of critical perspectives and disciplines are welcome. We are interested in ANY form of media — text, graphic novels,
television, movies, music and music videos, games — as long as it can be described as fantasy and includes a hell or its denizens.
Some texts to consider:
- C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters and The Great Divorce
- Charles Williams’s All Hallows’ Eve
- Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens (book and television series)
- Lois McMaster Bujold’s Five Gods series
- Music videos: Lil Nas X’s “Montero” and “Industry Baby”
- Television series: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Lovecraft Country, Supernatural, The Good Place
- Movies: Get Out, Dogma
- Tanith Lee’s Tales From the Flat Earth series (Death’s Master et seq.)
- Works by Vaclev Havel, Franz Kafka, Nikolai Gogol, George Orwell
- Neil Gaiman’s Sandman (graphic novels and television series)
- Walter Wangerin, Jr.’s Dun Cow trilogy
- Evan Dahm’s Harrowing of Hell (graphic novel)
Each paper will receive a 50-minute slot to allow time for questions, but individual papers should be timed for oral presentation in 40 minutes
maximum. Two or three presenters who wish to present short, related papers may also share a one-hour slot. Participants are encouraged to submit
papers chosen for presentation at the conference to the special issue of Mythlore
devoted to this theme. All papers should conform to the MLA Style Manual current edition.
Proposals should be approximately 200 words in length and should be sent to both co-chairs:
firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
Registration is US$20.00 per person. You may register up to four people on this page.
Since a major component of the online seminar is the discussions and other activities on Discord, we would also like to
know what screen name (or "handle") you use, or would like to use, on that platform. Specifying both your real name
and your Discord name helps us keep track of who is registered and who is not. However, supplying your Discord name
is technically optional, especially if you do not plan on participating in any Discord activities.