Course Details

RELG 322: Apocalypse How?

When will the world end, and how? What’s wrong with the world—morally, politically, naturally—such that people have seen its destruction as necessary or inevitable? Are visions of “The End” a form of sophisticated resistance literature, aimed at oppressive systems of power? Or are they evidence of a disturbed mind disconnected from reality? This seminar takes a deep dive into the contours of apocalyptic thought, which in its most basic form is about unmasking the deceptions of the given world by revealing the secret workings of the universe. We will begin with the earliest apocalypses, found in ancient Jewish and Christian texts, and move into modern religious and “secular” visions of cosmic collapse. Our approach will be historical and comparative, and we will explore topics ranging from doomsday cults to climate catastrophe, visions of heaven to tours of hell, malevolent angels to meddling UFOs, all the while asking how the apocalyptic imagination creates, as one thinker put it, “another world to live in.”
6 credits; HI, WR2, IDS; Offered Winter 2022; S. Anderson