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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Christine E. Goettler
ART H 400
Seattle Campus

ART History and Criticism

Courses on special topics, frequently by visiting faculty, which cannot be offered on a continuing basis. Consult art history office for subjects offered.

Class description

WS 2002 The Imagery of Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory

The course attempts to shed some light on aspects of devotional and visionary art that still remain largely unexplored. Images played an important role in clarifying and conceptualizing the Christian doctrine of heaven, hell, and purgatory: They initiated new discourses on concepts of sin and penance, judicial procedures, the place of women and different social and ethnic groups in a Christian society.

We will look at a wide range of representations of heaven, hell, and purgatory from humble objects to sophisticated works of art, primarily created in the period between the late thirteenth and the eighteenth century. But we will also discusses the “afterlife” of these images in modern and contemporary culture and art, for example, purgatorial artifices and stratagems in screwball comedy films, contemporary cults of the dead in Naples, and “moving” pictures of souls in video art. We will employ an interdisciplinary approach that links art history with religious studies, literary history, semiotics, sociology and gender studies.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

The course will be a combination of lecture and discussion and perhaps some class presentations.

Recommended preparation

A reader will be ready at the beginning of the quarter. A useful introduction is: Paul Binski. Medieval Death. Ritual and Representation, London 1996.

Class assignments and grading

Reviews of book chapters and articles; short essays etc.

Written assignments and class participation.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Christine E. Goettler
Date: 12/07/2001