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128110 VO Cultural Studies - MA M01 (2017W)

Apocalypse Now: Narratives of Crisis and Catastrophe in the 21st Century

5.00 ECTS (2.00 SWS), SPL 12 - Anglistik

Failed lecture registration / Moodle access:

Students who still miss prerequisites for this lecture (your current registration status is "angelegt" or "wiederaufgenommen") will be registered by our SSS staff to provide full access to Moodle. Registration lists will be checked at least once a week. There is no need to contact the SSS and/or lecturer(s) personally.
Please note: Students do need to have completed all curricular prerequisites before they can take the corresponding exam (separate registration necessary).


Language: English

Examination dates


Classes (iCal) - next class is marked with N

Thursday 05.10. 18:00 - 20:00 Helene-Richter-Saal UniCampus Hof 8 3G-EG-21
Thursday 12.10. 18:00 - 20:00 Helene-Richter-Saal UniCampus Hof 8 3G-EG-21
Thursday 19.10. 18:00 - 20:00 Helene-Richter-Saal UniCampus Hof 8 3G-EG-21
Thursday 09.11. 18:00 - 20:00 Helene-Richter-Saal UniCampus Hof 8 3G-EG-21
Thursday 16.11. 18:00 - 20:00 Helene-Richter-Saal UniCampus Hof 8 3G-EG-21
Thursday 23.11. 18:00 - 20:00 Helene-Richter-Saal UniCampus Hof 8 3G-EG-21
Thursday 30.11. 18:00 - 20:00 Helene-Richter-Saal UniCampus Hof 8 3G-EG-21
Thursday 07.12. 18:00 - 20:00 Helene-Richter-Saal UniCampus Hof 8 3G-EG-21
Thursday 14.12. 18:00 - 20:00 Helene-Richter-Saal UniCampus Hof 8 3G-EG-21
Thursday 11.01. 18:00 - 20:00 Helene-Richter-Saal UniCampus Hof 8 3G-EG-21
Thursday 18.01. 18:00 - 20:00 Helene-Richter-Saal UniCampus Hof 8 3G-EG-21


Aims, contents and method of the course

After 2016, a year universally hailed as ‘the worst one ever,’ many of us have come to view the world as a place of constant ruin where apocalyptic thinking and a rhetoric of imminent disaster dominate our everyday practices. This lecture series attempts to provide nuanced answers to questions arising from this ‘current age of crisis’ as exemplified by global migration flows caused by civil wars and famine, the European right wing gaining substantial ground, and political populism on the rise in the United States and beyond. In both dystopian and utopian visions of societies arising from devastation, destruction and liberation are inextricably entangled. In the history of Western civilization, such a biblical structure of punishment and redemption becomes particularly acute, suggesting that the ‘Old World’ makes room for a new, ostensibly better place. Narratives of crisis and catastrophe can thus serve as viable vehicles for envisioning a brighter future—a future beyond the economic, ecological, and social disasters of the present. While catastrophes, be they natural or man-made, threaten the wholesale extinction of humanity, they simultaneously announce the possibility of redemption and the dawning of a new beginning, purging civilization of evil, decadence, and moral decay. Special emphasis will be placed on the apocalyptic dimension(s) of literary, cultural, political, and social realities as well as their creative potential for change in the 21st century.

Like open wounds for societies that have become too self-centered and complacent, catastrophes and crises can be seen as both inevitable and ultimately beneficial for humanity, offering the welcomed possibility of a new and fresh start. The contributions in this international lecture series range from the humanities, social sciences, and anthropology to economics, statistics, and data science, and will explore how crises in Western society, literature, film, and popular culture may propel affirmative visions of global change. The interdisciplinary and intersectional approaches at play are set to discern the discourses, aesthetics, and representations of/in 21st-century narratives of crisis, catastrophe, and apocalypse in order to demonstrate how tales of de- and reconstruction negotiate the contemporary human condition in an era of global social, cultural, and political upheaval.

Web: apocalypse.univie.ac.at
Twitter: #apocalypse2017


October 5, 2017
Introduction: Imagining the Apocalypse - Contemporary Situations at the End

October 12, 2017
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Eva Horn: "The Future as Catastrophe"

October 19, 2017
Dr. Fred Luks & Mag. Georg Drennig: "Catastrophe, Utopia or Enigma? Imagined Futures of (Un)Sustainability"

November 2, 2017
Dr. Fabian Stephany: "Digital Revolution: The Manifold Crises in the Age of Intelligent Machines"

November 9, 2017
Prof. PhD J. Jesse Ramírez: "Playing with the End of the World: The Last of Us and Post-Apocalyptic Gaming"

November 16, 2017
Assoz.-Prof. Dr. Regina Polak: "Of Migration Waves, Floods and Streams: Narratives of Crisis and Apocalypse in the Bible and Modern Times"

November 23, 2017
MMag. Ralph Janik & DI Dr. Isabella Buber-Ennser: "The Refugee Crises and Forced Migration Flows into Austria"

November 30, 2017
Dr. Stephan Pühringer, "Narratives and Metaphors of the Financial Crisis"

December 7, 2017
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Kerstin Jobst: "On Holodomor and Chornobyl: Trauma and Memory in Ukrainian History"

December 14, 2017
Dr. Philip Jacobi: "Imagining the End of Britain: The Cosy Catastrophe in the 21st Century"


January 11, 2018
Prof. Dr. Sabine Strasser: "The Crises Effect: Global Moral Obligations and National Responses to Refugees in Turkey"

January 18, 2018
Conclusion & Wrap-Up: Tropes, Topics, and Themes in 21st-Century Narratives of Crisis and Catastrophe

January 25, 2018

Assessment and permitted materials

Written final exam

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

To pass the exam, students must obtain an overall mark of at least 60% and a mark of at least 50% in each individual part of the exam.

Examination topics

Contents covered in the lecture and course readings

Reading list

Course readings will be available on Moodle.

Association in the course directory

Studium: MA 812 (2); MA 844; UF MA 046
Code: MA (2) M3; MA 844 M01; UF MA 1B; 4A
Lehrinhalt: 12-5260

Last modified: We 09.09.2020 00:22