The Impossible Pit
Satan, Hell, and Teaching with Doctor Who
Keywords:Implicit Religion, Doctor Who, satan, hell, pedagogy, western religion, popular culture
AbstractThe Doctor Who episodes “The Impossible Planet” and “The Satan Pit” provide students the opportunity to apply knowledge gained in introductory Western religion courses to science fiction. As part of the final exam for Introduction to Western Religions (taught as Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA, USA), the episodes were viewed in class, followed by a group discussion of the major themes. Students were then asked to examine religious themes within the episodes and to write three-page responses in which they applied the themes of Western religion. Their insightful responses far exceeded my expectations, and given the success of the experiment, I have continued to use these episodes in my classes. This article explores the assignment itself, the responses from students, and merits of using science-fiction, especially Doctor Who, in teaching religious studies.
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