Literature and Film: End of the World: Apocalypse in Film and Literature
Prereq: One subject in Literature or Comparative Media Studies
The world is ending, or has it already ended? This course examines films and novels that grapple with apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic scenarios threatening humankind—scenarios that appear particularly prescient in the wake of a global pandemic and in the midst of an ongoing climate crisis. Comparing the different capacities of film and literature in representing such cataclysms, we will further consider the extent to which artworks can challenge our understanding of our own historical moment and the future it promises. Whether the end of the world takes the form of nuclear disaster, climate crisis, plague, or invasion, these works offer insight into the social, commercial, environmental, and civic structures of society as well as the forces that threaten them. Closely examining films such as Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), Melancholia (2011), and Blood Quantum (2019) and novels such as The Handmaid’s Tale (1985), Parable of the Sower (1993), and The Marrow Thieves (2017), we will examine the apocalypse from different cultural and historical perspectives, focusing on the dystopic and utopic possibilities in a world that is suddenly forced to change dramatically.