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IP305 - Posthumous Geographies II: Paradises

  • Module code: IP305
  • Module name: Posthumous Geographies II: Paradises
  • Department: Liberal Arts
  • Credit: 15

Content and teaching | Assessment | Availability

Module content and teaching

Principal aims

This transdisciplinary module examines conceptions of paradise from the classical period to present day, using Dante’s Divine Comedy as a pedagogical guide. The module employs a combination of approaches from cultural criticism, digital humanities, intellectual history, literary studies, philosophy, marketing, religious studies, and spatial poetics to explore problems such as how specific constructions of paradise spaces may critique the social, cultural, religious, and political values of a particular society; how ideas of profane and sacred spaces shape popular perceptions of ethical behaviour; and how imagined geographies of paradisial spaces can shape architecture and urban planning. In other words, this module examines the following broad issue from a variety of complementary perspectives: ‘How do cultural anxieties about the afterlife—embodied in imagined spaces of paradises—shape moral and intellectual values, social realities, and built environments (and how, in turn, do imagined paradise spaces serve as a form of cultural critique)’? We will consider the foundational tropes that underlie and generate such spaces—what Michael Rifaterre terms a ‘hypogram’—from their medieval Judeo-Christian roots through renaissance, twentieth-century, and contemporary/futuristic reconfigurations. We will examine how such ideas have been instrumental in shaping the horrors of Western colonialism, early modern orientalising paradises, and philosophical discussions of friendship and contemplation. The module will also feature a critical examination of how such ideas are articulated today in organised sports (Cricket/Baseball), department stores, exotic getaways, and music festivals. Finally, we will consider the future of such ideas through an examination of problems concerning cloud consciousness, uploaded minds, and digital afterlives. The course will allow students to develop and refine their multidisciplinary analytical skills by engaging with complex problems that resist simple solutions.

Principal learning outcomes

Upon completion of this module, students will be able to: Identify the central narratives of paradisial journeys [anabases] in Western culture and their reception from the classical world to present day. Critically analyse the dynamic between how such narratives have been inherited, reconfigured, and reshaped according to changing cultural concerns and how they, in turn, influence and often justify such cultural values. Discuss key theories of spatial poetics in depth, applying these to the paradises we will examine. Engage in weekly critical reflection on how narratives of paradises are articulated and marketed today as part of the ‘experience economy’. Apply advanced cognitive skills to build transdisciplinary knowledge that fosters transformative dialogue between the humanities, the social sciences, and business studies. Implement meta-cognitive skills in approaching complex contemporary problems, such as the debates concerning our digital afterlives and cloud consciousness. Collaboratively create their own culturally-conscious versions of contemporary paradises, along with a plan for potential social/architectural implementations.

Timetabled teaching activities

10 x 2 hr weekly workshops in Term 2 2 film screenings in Term 2

Departmental link

Module assessment

Assessment group Assessment name Percentage
15 CATS (Module code: IP305-15)
A (Assessed work only) In-class test 25%
  Creative Group Presentation 15%
  Reflection Diary 15%
  3000 word essay 45%
VA (Visiting students only) 100% assessed (visiting/exchange students) 100%

Module availability

This module is available on the following courses:



Optional Core