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- The Experience

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Author: A. James McAdams
Part I: The Experience. Discussions and readings for the course, "Ten Images of Hell in the Twentieth Century - University Seminar" in the Department of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame.

Part I: The Experience

DayTopic
1

Discussion: Why is Hell so much of a daily part of our lives?

Reading:

Image One: WORLD WAR I: “WAR IS HELL . . .”

Still image from The Battle of the Somme showing a wounded soldier being carried through a trench, accessed from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Battle_of_the_Somme_film_image2.jpg on 4/24/12. In the public domain.

2

Discussion: What is Hell? Perhaps it depends on whom you ask.

Reading:

3

Film: Segment from Lewis Milestone, “All Quiet on the Western Front”

4

Discussion: Great Writing, Persuasive Criticism

Readings from George Orwell:

5

An Excursus into the past. From the Twentieth Century to the Fourteenth Century and back. The goal today is to understand how different depictions of Hell reflect the age when they are created.

For today’s class, we will meet in the Special Collections Room of Hesburgh Library. Notre Dame is a powerhouse in Italian studies and has one of the finest collections of Dante’s Divine Comedy. Tracy Bergstrom, the library’s expert on this collection, will introduce us to depictions of Dante’s Inferno.

Before we meet, read the three cantos closely. The more you understand the cantos, the easier it will be for you to interpret the artistic depictions we see. For background, read through the short section from Turner’s History of Hell.

Readings:

The Inferno of Dante:

Also:

  • Background Reading: Alice Turner, The History of Hell (preview)
  • Browse one of the many illuminating Dante sites

Image Two: THE HOLOCAUST: “A LIVING HELL . . .

Photo of German atrocities. Germany, Poland & Czechoslovakia, 1945. Accessed from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:German_atrocities._Germany,_Poland_%26_Czechoslovakia,_1945.jpg on 4/27/12

6

Discussion: What is Wiesel’s depiction of Hell? And how does it differ from those we have already considered?

Reading:

7

Discussion: According to Wiesel’s arguments in Night and his Nobel Lecture below, how should we respond to Hell? Again, how would this response differ from the other works we’ve considered?

Reading:

8 Debate #1: “Auschwitz proves that God does not exist.”
9

Discussion: More Great Writing

Film: Selections from Leni Riefenstahl’s phantasmagoria, “Triumph of the Will”

Reading:

Image Three: LIFE ITSELF: “LIFE IS HELL . . .”

Photo by flickr.com user Dru! Accessed from http://www.flickr.com/photos/druclimb/4371039156/ on 4/27/12. CC BY-NC

Photo by flickr.com user Dru! Some rights reserved.

10

Discussion: Existentialism, Version I: “A World Without God”

Reading:

11

Discussion: Existentialism, Version II: “A World With God”

Reading:

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