OPEN TO PRE-COLLEGE ONLY
We are fascinated with tales of our own destruction. We flock to the cinema and turn on the TV to watch cinematic portrayals of technology gone wrong, super viruses, and zombie apocalypses. Why are we so taken with imagining the end of the world – and, ultimately, the survival of the select few? Where does this imagination begin, and how does inform our lives not just as sources of entertainment, but as belief systems that dictate or challenge our politics?
Beginning with the ancient sources that shape understandings of apocalypse in the modern world, we will consider the concept of the apocalypse not just as the end of a world, but as a source of revelation, prophetic power, and political force. Through this lens, we will consider how apocalypse has been summoned to discuss revolution and war, national and racial identities, ecological disaster, technologies of the future, and fears of cultural annihilation.
Readings include the Book of Daniel from the Hebrew Bible and the Book of Revelation from the New Testament, selections from the Norse Edda, Mary Shelley, Sigmund Freud, Jacques Derrida, Peter Szendy, Philip K. Dick, Martin Heidegger, WEB Du Bois, Flannery O’Connor, Michel Houellebecq, and Talal Asad. We will dip our toes into opera with excerpts from Richard Wagner’s The Ring of the Nibelung and analyze several films: HG Wells’ Things to Come (1936), Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Love the Bomb (1964), Lars van Trier’s Melancholia (2011), and George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road (2015).
Topics vary by semester. For current term course description, please see the Comparative Literature website at http://complit.as.nyu.edu/object/complit.undergrad.courses