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From Apocalypse to Zombie: The End of the World in Religion, History, and Culture

Is this the end? This question has haunted humanity for millennia. From Nostradamus to World War Z, religion, art, and popular culture have long manifested our enduring fascination with, anxiety about, and even hope for the end of the world. Explore the historical, religious, and social forces that have shaped conceptions of the end of time—what scholars call eschatology —from the ancient world to modern day. Beginning with the apocalyptic literature of early Judaism and Christianity, we will move forward to medieval doomsday oracles tied to the first millennium, the rise of Islam, and the black death. We will examine the hellish landscapes of Hieronymus Bosch, the “prophecies” of Nostradamus, the strange religious visions of Christopher Columbus, and the cataclysmic effects of European colonization on indigenous peoples. Finally, we will explore modern apocalyptic terrors—nuclear war, environmental disasters, pandemics, and even zombies—through a sampling of contemporary media and literature, such as Doctor Strangelove, World War Z, The Omen, Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake, and even TV’s Doomsday Preppers.

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You'll Walk Away with

  • An understanding of eschatology—the study of the historical, religious, and social forces that shape conceptions of the end of time
  • An overview of how humanity has reacted to this fear—in art, religion, and pop culture—throughout time

Ideal for

  • The curious and creative
  • Those with an interest in history, religion, and philosophy
NO open sections available for this course at the moment. Please check back next semester.