The Hermeneutics of Hell: Devilish Visions and Visions of the Devil in World Literature

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Dan Russ and Gregor Thuswaldner

Call for Submissions: The Hermeneutics of Hell: Devilish Visions and Visions of the Devil in World Literature

"There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors, and hail a materialist or magician with the same delight." C. S. Lewis. The Screwtape Letters

For centuries, the biblical account of Satan has inspired countless authors worldwide. Medieval texts dealing with devils often combined biblical and pagan imageries. But it wasn't until the early Baroque era when the devil in world literature became more individualistic. Since then, authors from around the world have been drawn to the devil as a literary figure. Often times, the devils created by Milton, Goethe, Chateaubriand, Byron, Lermontov, Strindberg, C.S. Lewis, Mahfouz and many others differ significantly from biblical texts and the literal interpretation of the Satan in the Old Testament. Even though the topic of hell seems to have lost its appeal on pulpits, it is still alive and well in literature.

This collection of essays aims to analyze devilish visions and visions of the devil and the different roles devils have assumed in world literature. What makes devils attractive literary figures? What are the functions of the devils? What are the underlying theologies? How do the literary devils differ from biblical images? Why are we as readers still fascinated by literary manifestations of the devil?

Possible topics may include:
• The devil as tempter
• The devil as accuser
• The devil as satirist
• The devil as cultural critic
• The devil as God's counterpart
• The devil as revolutionist
• The devil as a tragic figure
• The devil and damnation
• The devil and salvation
• The devil in passion plays
• Sympathy for the devil
• The future of devils
• Hell on earth
• Visions of hell
• Eternal damnation vs. extinction

Email your 250 word abstracts by September 1, 2015 to Dan Russ and Gregor Thuswaldner at and If selected for the essay collection, the finished assays are due by March 15, 2016.