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This module uses transdisciplinary Problem-Based Learning approaches to support students 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 students 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 students to develop comparative analytical skills and think across disciplinary boundaries.
Principal Learning Outcomes
By the end of the module, students will 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. Students will be expected to demonstrate they 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 their 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
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: https://www.jstor.org/stable/1344332.
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:
Cohen, J. J. (1996) Monster theory: reading culture. Minneapolis, Minn: University of
Collins, J. J. (ed.) (2014) The Oxford handbook of apocalyptic literature. New York: Oxford
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
Kim Worthy (1992) ‘HEARTS OF DARKNESS: MAKING ART, MAKING HISTORY, MAKING
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).
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%)