Honors Bachelor of Arts

Document Type


Faculty Advisor

Course Director: Dr. Shannon Byrne




This paper will provide a comprehensive account of the afterlife in modern literature and then a more in-depth analysis of how the near-death experience transforms those who have them in modern accounts. For my modern sources I will be examining Todd Burpo’s non-fiction New York Times Best Seller Heaven is for Real, Dr. Eben Alexander’s non-fiction New York Times Best Seller Proof of Heaven and the BBC’s documentary entitled “The Day I Died,” produced by Kate Broome. I will give the same comprehensive examination of the Underworld in classical literature and then continue to give a deeper analysis of how the near-death experiences transform the classical heroes who experience them. In order to do so, I will look at Homer’s Odyssey, Bacchylides’ Ode 5, Aristophanes’ Frogs, Plato’s Myth of Er, Virgil’s Georgics and Aeneid, and Ovid’s Metamorphoses. I have chosen these modern and classical sources because they are representative of views on the afterlife in the times that produced them. Through this analysis I hope to show that the transformative power of near-death experiences is universally acknowledged, transcending the boundaries of not only time but also of genre. In addition, I hope to show the importance of the wide reaching ability of these sources to give their audiences a way to talk and think about the inevitable human encounter with Death.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.



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