Sunday, 7 September 2008

The Inferno is Back

Back in July ,2007, I posted an entry about an educational sim that had brought Dante's Inferno into Second Life. Not long after, it disappeared and I thought: "ho hum, well that's that then." However, while off exploring today I noticed it is back. Now, it may have been back for ages, but as this is a welcome return, I thought it worth blogging about. Rather than forming part of the large NMC cluster of sims, it is now proudly on it own as the Dante's Inferno sim.

It is very much like the earlier incarnation - but rather than describe it myself, I will be lazy and quote one of the many, many notecards at you, instead:

This exhibit is meant to engage all of your senses... On each level, there are activities where guests are asked to contribute content...

Please explore all the circles of Hell. You will find notecards, activities, displays and as the course develops student generated content too. If you reach the centre you will also find details about the "Build Lucifer" contest we are running, with a L$10,000 prize. You are welcome to just walk down each level, the fall here will not hurt, but you may also catch the flying gondola ride down a level at a time if you wish.

On each level you will find rocks which offer you a chance to chat to Virgil and Dante. The conversations that result may seem to ramble, but the points they raise ask you about features of the circle that you are on, and give you hints about further learning you may wish to explore. Alternatively, they can be used just for fun!

Gloria Naylor used the concept of the Inferno to frame her modern African-American novel, Linden Hills.

The novel, and the Inferno, celebrate the results of life choices. Linden Hills focuses on the choices of modern blacks in their quest to reach "equality" and urges that "equality" is in the heart and not the pocketbook. Likewise, Dante's tour illustrates that life is a series of choices about virtue.

Unlike Dante and Virgil, once you reach the centre of Hell, you can step through the wall to enter student displays about Linden Hills. This will help you understand the book, and help you and the students understand the links between the structure of the two novels.

Dante's Inferno and The Linden Hills Classroom are property of Literature Alive! in Second Life Credits: Eloise Pastuer, Design and Content Creation, Desideria Stockton, Academic Content Designer, Daliah Carter, Assistant.
When I last saw it, students had already been contributing their own ideas as to the denizens of the various levels. However, at the moment this amusing and potentially thought-provoking aspect of the sim is missing. I didn't see any Lindsay Lohans or Adolf Hitlers! The notecard quoted above is right though. There is a lot to learn here, and many activities that should keep the Infernally Minded busy for a while. Here's a small selection of images to give you a taste:

PS: I left the reference to The Gluttonous as a warning to self!


Eloise said...

Thank you for the review.

We considered adding the student content for who should be on the various levels of hell back. It caused quite a lot of controversy at the time we had it out there, in particular from people who didn't realise that the names weren't staff suggestions and so different people would suggest the same person on different levels - I seem to remember George Bush and Osama Bin Laden were both quite frequent appearances on different circles.

We took the decision that displaying the pictures detracted from the overall learning experience so we wouldn't repeat it.

When I have some spare time I might revisit the idea and let people add names etc. to a list in a different way so that it is easy to maintain.

Aleister Kronos said...

Hi Eloise.
Thanks for the update. As you will have read, I was amused by the juxtapositions, rather than shocked. But I can see how it would cause more controversy than enough - and would detract from actually learning about Dante and The Inferno.

That said, much of the inferno is now empty real estate, crying out (literally in some places!) for content. Perhaps there is an option for a more mediated approach to who's who in Hell. Submit names with rationale, and perhaps (he shudders!) let the students decide who makes it into the ranks of The Damned. I dunno... there's an answer out there somewhere!

Good luck with the sim - it's a great resource and it's great to see it back.