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OWLS Course Two: Staging the Afterlife: Images of Heaven and Hell in Renaissance Drama. October 4-5

Posted on September 19, 2018 in Active Aging, OWLS School, In The News, Learning

Staging the Afterlife: Images of Heaven and Hell in Renaissance Drama

Professor Elise Lonich Ryan returns to us by popular demand!

Do you like Shakespeare and other Renaissance writers? Are you a literary detective that loves to learn about themes of life and death and are you intrigued by themes in literature? There is still room in our Staging the Afterlife class sponsored by OWLS. Take a look at the course description on the OWLS website: or download the registration materials on our website!

During the Reformation in England, following Henry VIII’s split from the Roman Catholic Church and during the periods of religious upheaval in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, questions concerning the afterlife abounded: Would there be a bodily resurrection? Did Purgatory still exist? How could one be certain of salvation? Theologians and statesmen argued, and in some cases, died trying to answer these questions. Literature and art found other creative and dynamic ways to represent the personal and cultural crises that were causing seismic shifts in England.

In this course, we’ll examine the ways that performance—Renaissance drama by Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson, and others—staged these questions of the afterlife. By representing the afterlife and believers in a variety of ways—as tragic figures, as moral paragons, as quacks and jokes—they offered the public a communal means to work through complex issues of belief. These texts also offer an imaginative engagement with the past and the extension of life beyond the grave that incorporates high emotion and desire alongside strict doctrine, creating one compelling and capacious means to understand one’s life.

INSTRUCTOR: Dr. Elise Lonich Ryan teaches and writes in Pittsburgh, PA. She earned a Ph.D. in English Renaissance Literature and had published articles and presented papers on this topic. She writes book reviews for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and is working on a series of essays that combine her academic interests with personal narrative.

Sign up for this OWLS course here:

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