Fantasy Goes to Hell: Depictions of Hell in Modern Fantasy Texts

deadline for submissions: 
November 15, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
The Mythopoeic Society
contact email: 


Call for Papers

Fantasy Goes to Hell: Depictions of Hell in

Modern Fantasy Texts


A Mythcon Online Winter Seminar (28 January 2023)

and Special Issue of Mythlore (Fall/Winter 2023)

Chairs/Editors: Janet Brennan Croft and Erin Giannini



Proposals for the seminar: November 15, 2022

Submissions for the special issue: May 15, 2023


Submit proposals to AND


Seminar registration is $20.00 USD. Register for the seminar at


Hell in modern fantasy is usually a far cry from traditional depictions in major world religions—the dry and dusty hells of ancient Mesopotamia and the Classical world, the ambiguous Hel of the Norse, the fiery pit and everlasting torment of medieval Christianity and Islam, the purgatorial hells of reincarnative religions like Buddhism and Hinduism.

How do creators of fantasy imagine Hell differently? And more importantly, why? What do these depictions have to tell us about what is hellish in our modern world?


  • The mystical spiritual descent: what can be gained from a descent to hell
  • The escape from hell: What is saved, and what is left behind
  • The harrowing of hell: the rescue of others from hell
  • The pact with hell: self-damnation or turning the tables
  • The intersection of race, racism, and hell
  • Hellish places: Mordor, Charn, the Upside Down, the post-apocalyptic world
  • The influence of fantastic ur-texts about Hell: Aeneas’s visit in The Aeneid; Dante’s Inferno (and Dorothy L. Sayers’s translation); Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus; Milton’s Paradise Lost; Jean-Paul Sartre’s No Exit; the art of Hieronymus Bosch; Mozart’s Don Giovanni
  • “This IS the Bad Place!”: The primary world as Hell


We’re interested in ANY form of media—text, graphic novels, television, movies, music and music videos, games—as long as it can be described as fantasy and includes a hell or its denizens.

Some texts to consider:


  • C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters and The Great Divorce
  • Charles Williams’s All Hallows’ Eve
  • Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens (book and television series)
  • Lois McMaster Bujold’s Five Gods series
  • Music videos: Lil Nas X’s “Montero” and “Industry Baby”
  • Television series: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Lovecraft Country, Supernatural, The Good Place, Stranger Things
  • Lucifer (graphic novels and television series)
  • Movies: Get Out, Dogma
  • Tanith Lee’s Tales From the Flat Earth series (Death’s Master et seq.)
  • Works by Vaclev Havel, Franz Kafka, Nikolai Gogol, George Orwell
  • Neil Gaiman’s Sandman (graphic novels and television series)
  • Walter Wangerin, Jr.’s Dun Cow trilogy
  • Evan Dahm’s Harrowing of Hell (graphic novel)


Proposals should be approximately 200 words in length and should be sent to both co-chairs.

See you in January! –Erin and Janet