Stephanie Lang | The Vital Collapse—Apocalypse and New Paradise in Eça de Queiroz and Teixeira de Pascoaes

26.1 Apocalypse

Abstract

Fin-de-siècle Europe seems obsessed by the Janus-faced problem of decay and renewal, halfway between the socio-biological sciences of late positivism and the emerging vitalistic theories, where accumulation, waste and loss of vital energies are a constant reference. In Portugal, Eça de Queiroz and Teixeira de Pascoaes both share the obsession with decay, an often topically assumed and aesthetically over-exploited phantasm in the dramatization of the Nation’s destiny. For their visions of regeneration, decay is a necessary but purifying preliminary stage— only the descent into hell can lead to a new paradisiacal overcoming. In the narrative texts A Cidade e as Serras (1901) and Marânus (1911), Eça and Teixeira present sometimes apologetic, sometimes subversive versions of this energetic collapse. With different strategies of inversion, deformation and ironic overfulfilment these texts discuss not only a nationalistic but also—and above all—a poetic overcoming.

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June 26th, 2015

James Berger | “The Voice of the Bridegroom and the Bride Shall be Heard No More”: Apocalypse, Critique, and Procreation

26.1 Apocalypse

Abstract

Representations of the end of the world generally involve a totalizing critique of a social-symbolic order seen as corrupt beyond the possibility of reform. But in imagining the end of the world, we imagine also the end of the means of representing it, the end of language—and so, representations of apocalypse bring together numerous discourses of the incommensurable and unrepresentable: the sublime, the sacred, the abject and obscene, the traumatic, and “others” in all their variants. Finally, apocalyptic portrayals often engage in complex depictions of sexuality, especially in relation to procreation. If we, in imagination, eliminate the future, then what becomes of the child and of the biological processes that produce him or her? From the Whore of Revelation to Eliot’s Wasteland to the pregnant immigrant of Children of Men, problematics of social critique and language find expression in dramas of sexuality and procreation.

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June 26th, 2015

Barnita Bagchi | Must there be Apocalypse? An Analysis of South Asian Speculative Fiction

26.1 Apocalypse

Abstract

This article will focus on colonial and postcolonial speculative fiction from South Asia, and ask how, in a geographical region which is culturally and religiously hybrid, we can ‘translate’ the originally Eurocentric terms
apocalypse, utopia, and dystopia, and how these can be related. In the nineteenth century, the Hindu notion of cyclical cosmic time, and specifically the last age in that cycle, Kaliyuga, became embedded in historic-cultural
anxiety. Fears about the power that women and lower castes were mythically supposed to enjoy in that age found obvious historical, real-life correlates in the growth of women’s and lower-caste agency. In this context, my article will focus on three South Asian writers of speculative fiction, each of whom makes gender-egalitarian and
subaltern agency central in their work: Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain, the colonial Bengali Muslim writer of speculative fiction from India/Bangladesh, Amitav Ghosh, the contemporary diasporic Indian postcolonial writer, and Vandana
Singh, also a contemporary Indo-American writer of science fiction, speculative fiction, and children’s fiction.

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June 26th, 2015

Teresa Heffernan | On Apocalypse, Monsters and Mourning

26.1 Apocalypse

Abstract

If apocalypse literally means unveiling or revelation, why is it that so many twenty-first century popular narratives are caught in an endless loop where disaster never gives way to a new dawn? Why is it that they remain stalled at catastrophe and are unable to imagine a future? What is it that cannot be mourned and what is it that traps the libidinal energies of these narratives in past that cannot give way to a new world? In a reading of the American TV series The Walking Dead and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, this paper suggests that “holding onto the hope of humanity” may itself be the problem.

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June 26th, 2015

Laura Copier | “Has anyone seen this?”: Imaginary Apocalypse in Jeff Nichols’ Take Shelter

26.1 Apocalypse

Abstract

This article explores the enduring presence and appeal of apocalyptic narratives in two recent films, Melancholia and in more detail, Take Shelter. After a short discussion on the definition and on the different ways in which
apocalyptic discourse is manifested (not only in religious and scholarly discourse, but even more so in secular cultural expressions), the article will analyze the film Take Shelter. I will deal with this film in two different ways: on the one hand, it is a good example of a resilient feature of apocalyptic narratives: its visionary quality, on the other hand it seemingly breaks with the paradigm of unfulfilled apocalyptic endings.

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June 26th, 2015

Jessica Hurley | Still Writing Backwards: Literature After the End of the World

26.1 Apocalypse

Abstract

This article challenges the conflation in late twentieth-century culture of postmodernism with post-apocalypticism, arguing that the central features of postmodernism—the repeal of the Grand Narrative model of history, the decentering of the subject, and the reimagining of the world as non-anthropocentric—are also central to an ethics of apocalypse that seeks to avoid actual extinction even as it imaginatively engages with it. Through a reading of
Walter J. Miller’s A Canticle for Leibowitz, it argues that through literature we can encounter the apocalypse not as the promised end to the project of modernity but as a way of countering modernity’s more destructive tendencies.

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June 26th, 2015

Frederick Buell | Post-Apocalypse: A New U.S. Cultural Dominant

26.1 Apocalypse

Abstract

Over the last three decades, post-apocalypse has become a widespread feature of U.S. culture: in literary and popular fiction and film; in genres from science fiction to young adult fiction; on platforms ranging from print to television and even infants’ toys. Postapocalypse is in fact a cultural dominant in the U.S. now. It engages an across-the board turn toward social anxiety in a spectrum of cultural discourses, from technology and environmental theory to post-global capitalism. It springs from a peculiar dynamic of risk within U.S. society. And it provides material out of which a new U.S. global-cultural interface has formed.

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December 7th, 2014