Apocalypse Now

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Two Sections Available to Choose From:

Course DatesLengthMeeting TimesStatusFormatInstructor(s)CRN
July 12, 2021 - July 30, 20217/12 - 7/303 WeeksM-F 12:15P-3:05PWaitlistedOn-CampusLanre Akinsiku
July 12, 2021 - July 30, 20217/12 - 7/303 WeeksM-F 3:30P-6:20POpenOn-CampusLanre Akinsiku

Course Description

How will we know when the end of the world has arrived? How do we know it hasn't already happened? And how might our racial or gender identities shape our relationship to it? In this course we’ll unpack movies, short stories, and current events in order to disrupt popular notions of what an “apocalypse” looks like. We’ll also use our readings to discuss why apocalyptic predictions are so popular across time and space and theorize about what, if anything, we should do about the next one.

Classes will be discussion-based and use a multimedia-based approach to "readings", which will include fiction, theory, film and visual art. Students will be asked to engage artists and thinkers who use the apocalypse to explore personal and political histories, including fiction by Margaret Atwood, Haruki Murakami and Octavia Butler; poetry by Moor Mother, Natalie Diaz and Tracey K. Smith; music by Sun Ra and Nirvana; and documentary films by Werner Hertzog and Shigeru Kayama. Class discussions will illuminate conversations occurring between seemingly disparate texts and challenge students to explore deeper questions of history and identity: Who has the authority to declare that the world has "ended"? How should the stories of lost worlds be told? What can the histories of Black and Indigenous peoples tell us about the problems with popular definitions of 'apocalypse'? And how is apocalyptic art and imagery used to shape political and cultural discourse?

Students will be required to to keep a journal of their responses to the readings over the course of the class. At the end of the course, students will do group presentations that discuss how they might redefine what an 'apocalypse' is.

Learning goals:

  • Perform close readings of texts, with particular attention to the way a text engages with complex understandings of identity, history, memory and society
  • Speak knowledgeably about the history and evolution of apocalyptic ideas and art
  • Identify elements of narrative craft

Prerequisites: None

Course Information

  • Course Code: CEEL1015

Program Information


Brown’s Pre-College Program in the liberal arts and sciences for students completing grades 9-12 by June 2021.

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