End of times beliefs have been common in many human cultures, not only ancient but also in the present day. Learn how the end of the world has been envisioned by religion, from fundamentalist Christian conceptions of the apocalypse, to the "New Age" belief that the world will end in the year 2012. Examine narratives of worldwide catastrophe presented through fiction and film, and consider the religious and spiritual assumptions that so often underlie these ostensibly "secular" narratives.
This course will look at the political, social and psychological implications of apocalyptic narratives: do they encourage violent, desperate activism, or passive helplessness in the face of the inevitable? These questions will be analyzed and discussed within the media framework that highlights such recent and current issues as the prospect of nuclear war, and anxieties about climate change and the destruction of the natural environment.