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IP204 The Apocalyptic Imaginary

Wall E, the Disney Pixar Robot

Dr Gavin Schwartz-Leeper
Dr Gavin Schwartz-Leeper
Module Leader
Optional module
Term 2
10 weeks

Moodle Platform »

Important information

This module will not be running in the academic year 2021-22.

Principal Aims

This module uses transdisciplinary Problem-Based Learning approaches to support you to generate problems arising from a range of narratives about the end of the world, and to consider how these problems reflect complex concerns about individuality, morality, the social contract, and the afterlife. Beginning with historical mythological narratives and encompassing religious, political, and ecological apocalyptic theories and scenarios through to the modern day, this module will encourage you to think in transdisciplinary ways about the roles played by apocalyptic narratives in historical and modern societies. The module will make use of literary, religious, philosophical and historical texts, films, music, images, environmental science data, news and social media, and political narratives to encourage you to develop comparative analytical skills and think across disciplinary boundaries.

Principal Learning Outcomes

By the end of the module, you'll have been exposed to and worked with complex, multi-disciplinary narratives, requiring the development and employment of advanced critical thinking skills, academic writing, presentation skills, and both individual and group research skills. You'll be expected to demonstrate you have:

  • Acquired an understanding of key features of Western apocalypticism, including aspects of cosmology and eschatology;
  • Examined and explicated the consequences of apocalyptic beliefs in practical settings;
  • Acquired an understanding of the ways in which social concerns shape political activities;
  • Acquired an understanding of the ways in which social concerns shape scientific inquiry;
  • Studied at least two apocalyptic narratives in depth;
  • Developed an ability to critically examine and critique apocalyptic symbols in art and society;
  • Developed an ability to generate relevant multidisciplinary problems through individual and small group research;
  • Developed your individual and group research skills through multidisciplinary examinations of specific case studies.


Problem One: The Bundys and American Apocalypticism

Week 1: An Introduction to Eschatological and Apocalyptic Narratives in Science, Religion, and Philosophy

Week 2: The White Horse Prophecy

Week 3: Prophecy and Revelation in the American West

Problem Two: The (Un)controlled Body: Slaves and Zombies

Week 4: Monsters and/in Society

Week 5: Zombies, Voodoo, and Slavery in Haiti

Week 6: Theorizing the Zombie Apocalypse

Problem Three: The Transhuman Postapocalypse: Extinction Level Events

Week 7: Representations of Eco-collapse (plus presentation)

Week 8: The Cold War and the Environment (plus presentation)

Week 9: The Transhuman Postapocalypse (plus presentation)

Week 10: Discursive Outline Peer-Review Session

Indicative Bibliography

Adela Yarbro Collins (2011) ‘Apocalypse Now: The State of Apocalyptic Studies Near the
End of the First Decade of the Twenty-First Century’, The Harvard Theological Review.
Cambridge University Press, 104(4), pp. 447–457.
Akala (2016). Natives : race and class in the ruins of empire. London: Two Roads, 2018.
‘Apocalypse Now’ (1979).
Brown, V. (2010) Reaper’s Garden. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.
‘Bundyville : NPR’ (2017).
Buck-Morss, S. (2000) ‘Hegel and Haiti’, Critical Inquiry. The University of Chicago
Press, 26(4), pp. 821–865. Available at:
Carroll, R. and Prickett, S. (eds) (1998) The Bible, The Bible: Authorized King James Version. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Carson, R. (2002) Silent spring. 40th anniversary ed., 1st Mariner Books ed. Boston:
Houghton Mifflin.
Cohen, J. J. (1996) Monster theory: reading culture. Minneapolis, Minn: University of
Minnesota Press.
Collins, J. J. (ed.) (2014) The Oxford handbook of apocalyptic literature. New York: Oxford
University Press.
Derrida, J. (2006) Specters of Marx. London: Taylor & Francis Ltd.
Doctrine and Covenants 45. Available at:
Hickman, Jared (2014) ‘The Book of Mormon as Amerindian Apocalypse.’, American Literature, 86(3), pp. 429–461.
Hurlbut, J. B. and Tirosh-Samuelson, H. (eds) (2016) Perfecting human futures: transhuman
visions and technological imaginations. Wiesbaden: Springer. Available at:
Joseph, C. L. and Cleophat, N. S. (2016) Vodou in Haitian Memory. Lanham, MD: Lexington
MONEY, MAKING “VIETNAM”’, Cinéaste. Cineaste Publishers, Inc., 19(2), pp. 24–27.
Koch, Klaus (1972) The rediscovery of apocalyptic. London: S.C.M. Press.
Lauro, S. J. (2015) The transatlantic zombie: slavery, rebellion, and living death. New
Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press.
Penrod, Don L. (2010) ‘Edwin Rushton as the Source of the White Horse Prophecy’, Brigham Young University Studies. Brigham Young University, 49(3), pp. 75–131.
Seager, J. (2014) Carson’s Silent Spring : A Reader's Guide. Bloomsbury Publishing PLC.
Stephenson, N. (2016) Seveneves. London: The Borough Press.

Foucault, M. (1982) ‘The Subject and Power' Critical Inquiry,8(2).

Visual Materials

Apocalypse Now (United Artists, 1979).
Live and Let Die (United Artists, 1973).
Wall-E (Pixar, 2008).



Critical Essay (50%)

Discursive Outline (20%)

Reflective Journal (30%)

"Apocalyptic Imaginary was one of my favourite modules at Warwick. The topics and set readings were so interesting and we got to explore so many different ideas and concepts that would have never occurred to me otherwise! This module has made watching a zombie movie an entirely different experience for me!"

Cymroan | Liberal Arts student