Spring 2011

The End of the World:  Utopias and Dystopias

Listed in: Religion, as RELI-12


Robert Doran (Section 01)
Susan Niditch (Section 01)


War, pestilence, famine, flood, and other calamities have been taken in a diverse range of traditions as signs of “the end of days,” as signals that the world as we know it is on the verge of collapse. Some traditions suggest that a troubled and chaotic reality will be replaced by a new and perfect world whereas some predict a much diminished and barren new creation. Others indeed see the destruction as utter and final. While many traditions allow for survivors, some are quite explicit about the identity of this remnant and about the reasons for their salvation. In this course, we will examine a variety of sources and media, ancient and modern, discuss the cultural, sociological, and psychological roots of apocalyptic worldviews, and explore the ways in which ancient texts have been appropriated in subsequent imaginings of the end of the world.

Spring semester.  Professors Doran and Niditch.


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2011