Apocalypse and the Anthropocene

ENGL 268

Tuesday/Thursday, 1:30 - 3:00 PM

In this class we will explore the narrative mode of the apocalypse in the context of the geologic designation of the Anthropocene. We will analyze a diversity of cultural forms to think about questions, reconceptions, and social issues relevant to that epochal concept. Specifically, we will focus primarily on the ways North American literature (especially the novel, but also film, blogs, and video games) attempt to understand the human and non-human relationships in the Anthropocene through stories of apocalypse. We will look to the ways apocalyptic stories can represent and contest the exploitative, extractive, and unequal power relations that the “era of the human” includes, paying special attention to American notions of nature and stewardship as they relate to geologic time and the legacies of genocide, slavery, and capitalism. Our class will investigate the ways works of art attempt to render these complex and perhaps overwhelming concepts comprehensible so that we may envision and enact just futures.

course poster including course information and an image of an apocolyptic scene of destruction with burned out cars on the side of the road and an orange-tinged smoke-filled sky above an urban skyline.

Spring 2020