Comparative Literature

015  Apocalyptic Literature in the Ancient World and Its Legacy Today


High school students are interested in learning about history. This is also an excellent course to prepare for college writing and the kinds of literary analyses performed in college classrooms. 


The Hellenistic era (3rd-century BCE-4th century CE) was a period of remarkable theological and literary creativity in the eastern Mediterranean, including a unique literary genre within Judaism, apocalyptic literature. Using fantastical imagery and symbolism, apocalyptic writing portends a catastrophic end to the world and one in which some segment of humanity survives.  As such, the genius of apocalyptic literature is that it simultaneously serves as a warning and a source of hope.  The genre has also had remarkable staying power. It has been reimagined and reinterpreted through the centuries to confront various types of social stress: disease, technology, war, and environmental concerns.

In this workshop, we will explore several ancient apocryphal texts in-depth, including portions of Daniel from the Hebrew scriptures, the Book of Enoch from the Maccabean period, the Apocalypse of John (Revelation) from the 1st century, and the 2nd-century text Apocalypse of Peter to understand better the genre and how it developed. We will also examine how the apocalyptic imagination asserts itself in modern cinema and creative writing. Students will learn about the socio-historical factors that led to the emergence of this genre and how contemporary apocalyptic art reflects more recent societal anxieties.

【Sample research topics】

  • Humanity in Apocalyptic Literature

  • Creating Hope in Modern Apocalyptic Literature

  • Dies Irae - Why apocalyptic fiction is so prevalent in the modern-day


  • The Possessed: Dostoevsky’s Conscientious Monarchy

  • A Post-Apocalyptic World in The Chrysalids: The Relationship Between the Eugenics Movement and Christain Fundamentalist Thinking

  • Apocalyptic Movements During the Qing Dynasty: A Comparison Between the Taiping Rebellion and the Boxer Rebellion

Image by Clarisse Meyer