Four-Horsemen-of-the-ApocalypseI’m teaching a course on the Apocalypse (Spring 2015). I’ve received interest from folks regarding the readings, focus of the course, etc. I’ve designed this course to deal with not only the idea of the apocalypse, but response to disaster, who is affected by disaster, what it means to anticipate and expect an eschatological event, utopias/dystopias, and more. While a reference to religion will open the course, this is not designed to focus on the spiritual or prophetic aspects of apocalypse. 

Things You Want to Know:


Essays & Response Papers: The primary focus of your writing this semester will be work towards a researched argumentative essay. This will include a research proposal to be turned in in the weeks prior to your final essay. The final essay will be 7-9 pages and must incorporate at least 5 scholarly sources. You will be expected to use at least 2 of the books, films, television shows, and other materials we have discussed in class as part of your essay.

You will also turn in 3 short response papers prior to the beginning of class on the due dates marked on the syllabus. Each paper will be 2-3 double-spaced pages and will address the larger issues/themes of the course in relation to the texts we encounter. I will be looking for critical analysis and interpretations of the text, and expect that you go beyond simple summary of a source. Your papers should not summarize the major parts of Oryx and Crake, but may instead look at how visions of the future and theoretical models we’ve explored can shape an optimistic, hopeful future. An “A” paper will do both these things and will showcase a considered, thoughtful analysis combined with new insights on the material. NOTE: I will deduct one letter grade for each day a response paper is late.

Midterm: The midterm essay will be a chance for you to showcase understanding and critical investigation of course theory and material. I will distribute possible questions for you to consider by date, and you’ll write a 5-6 page essay on the question of your choice.


UNIT 1: History of the Apocalypse

Tues., Jan. 15

  • Introduction to course and materials
  • Revelation, King James Bible–and art of the apocalypse

Thurs., Jan. 17

  • from End of Days: Essays on the Apocalypse from Antiquity to Modernity (Kinane & Ryan): “Introduction” & “Ancient Visions”

UNIT 2: Disaster and Capitalism

Tues., 1/20

  • Jared Diamond, Collapse: Ch. 5 (“The Maya Collapses”) and Ch. 14 (“Why Do Some Societies Make Disastrous Decisions?”)

Thurs., 1/22

  • from Apocalyptic Discourses in Contemporary Culture: Post-Millenial Perspectives on the End of the World: Cunningham & Warwick
  • The Meaning of Zombies” by Naomi Alderman
  • View: The Walking Dead (Pilot)


  • Research Skills


  • Disaster Capitalism
  • Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine: “Introduction,” Ch. 1 (“The Torture Lab”) & 2 (“The Other Doctor Shock”)


  • Disaster Capitalism
  • Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine: Ch. 7 (“The New Doctor Shock: Economic Warfare Replaces Dictatorship”) & Ch. 8 (“Crisis Works: The Packaging of Shock Therapy”)

UNIT 3: Disaster & Race and Gender 


  • Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine: Ch. 20 (“Disaster Apartheid: A World of Green Zones and Red Zones”)
  • ViewWhen the Levees Broke excerpt (Spike Lee)


  • Women and Disaster
  • Elizabeth Russell, from Apocalyptic Discourses in Contemporary Culture (“Escape/Landscape/Genderscape: No Futures for Women”)
  • Hanna Rosin, “The End of Men


  • Disaster & Division
  • from End of DaysEvelyn Stiller (“Gaming Armageddon: Leaving Behind Race, Class, and Gender”)



  • Apocalypses & Pop Culture
  • Matthew Schneider-Mayerson, “Disaster Movies and the ‘Peak Oil’ Movement: Does Popular Culture Encourage Eco-Apocalyptic Beliefs in the United States?”
  • PlayThe Last of Us

UNIT 4: Catastrophe & the Future: Climate Change


  • Naomi Klein, from This Changes Everything, Ch. 1 (“The Right is Right: The Revolutionary Power of Climate Change”)


  • Research Skills, Day 2


  • Naomi Klein, from This Changes Everything


  • Jared Diamond, from Collapse: Ch. 15 (“Big Businesses and the Environment: Different Conditions, Different Outcomes”)


  • Writing Day


  • ViewCollapse (Documentary)

UNIT 5: Dystopias/Utopias


  • Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake: Ch. 1-6


  • Oryx and Crake: Ch. 7-8


  • Start Viewing: Snowpiercer


  • Oryx and Crake: Ch. 9-12


  • Oryx and Crake: Ch. 13-End


  • Finish viewing: Snowpiercer


  • Utopias and Dystopias: After the End
  • From Utopia/Dystopia: Conditions of Historical Possibility
  • Katherine Snyder, “‘Time to Go’: The Post-Apocalyptic and Post-Traumatic in Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake


  • Writing Day
  • Neil Degrasse Tyson, from Death by Black Hole

That’s it. If you have questions or want lesson plans or whatever, email me at jdaugherty81 [at] gmail [dot] com. Hope this is useful.


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