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The End is Coming: Apocalypse in Film and Literature

ENGL 001.401
also offered as: COML 001
TR 10:30-12


From global pandemics to great floods, from nuclear wars to days of judgment, from climate collapse to universal heat death, our world has never freed itself from the threat of impending apocalypse.  This perennial premonition, THE END IS COMING, is at once religious, political, rhetorical, environmental, historical, aesthetic, and personal--and so, against the backdrop of our perceived current crisis this course returns to endings that have gripped the cultural imagination from the Book of Revelation to Wall-E.  It investigates the past, present, and future of the notion that we have no future, in an attempt to zero in on several significant questions.  What drives our fascination with, our fear of, and even our desire for destruction?  Does the sense of an ending condition our experience of the world, of art, of narrative,and of thought?  And is it really the end of the world, or just the end of our world that obsesses us?  To attempt answers, we will probe the definition of such terms as world, end,coming, desire, and "our" and will examine how literature and film ground the universal catastrophes they predict in specific places and times.  Every generation has believed it was the last; our own no exception.

Some dare to build the struts and rafters of a Jerusalem to come, some turn their heads away from the writing on the wall, and some dance as the palaces burn.  We mean to investigate each, and to articulate our own responses to the end that comes again and again.  Although no artist, author, or prophet that we study was able to shake their sense of the final, the course itself will not have one.  But it will address those figures in depth.  They include: Margaret Atwood, Stanley Kubrick, Sigmund Freud, John of Patmos, William Blake, Ovid, Lars Von Trier, Octavia Butler, William Shakespeare, Samuel Beckett, Boccaccio, Mary Shelley, Karl Marx, Mohammed, Donna Haraway, Frank Kermode, Cormac McCarthy, and Norman O.Brown.

fulfills requirements