Physical, spiritual, allegorical, and psychological journeys through the underworld present a wide variety of problems; How does a trip through hell and back change the person undertaking the journey? What forces shape the imaginary design of such underworlds and their often terrible punishments? What narratives about the self and society are intertwined in such underworlds and how do they manifest themselves today in recovery narratives, our conceptions of organised crime, and experiences of incarceration? This transdisciplinary module examines such problems (and more) across a wide variety of material.
If you wish to undertake this module, please note that it is decidedly not a Classics, Sociology, or Italian Studies module. While we draw on insights from these disciplines and many others (such as cultural criticism, philosophy, religious studies, psychology, and intellectual history), we employ a variety of student-led approaches to consider the problems of the underworld from a transdisciplinary perspective. For example, in our discussions, we will explore problems such as the concept of the self in relation to political power, the reflexivity of normalizing power and social discourse on gender and race in the katabatic imaginary, the psychological reshaping of urban landscapes by criminal gangs, distorted experiences of space and time in carceral geography, and the relationship between the tyranny of originality and substance abuse.
Through exploration of and reflection upon these problems, you will refine your analytical skills by thinking across disciplines to engage with complex problems that resist simple solutions.
N.B. This module is complemented by ‘Posthumous Geographies II: Paradises’, which explores similar problems but focuses instead on paradise spaces. You may take either module individually or both in succession.
Please note: Module availability and staffing may change year on year depending on availability and other operational factors. The School for Cross-faculty Studies makes no guarantee that any modules will be offered in a particular year, or that they will necessarily be taught by the staff listed on these pages.