Selected Chapters from Anglophone Literatures                                                                         2016 Spring


Post-Apocalyptic Fiction

David Levente Palatinus Ph.D.                                                                                 

Thu 1030-1200 F110



This course maps out the cultural, political and social contexts of contemporary post-apocalyptic fiction by looking at some of its most emblematic examples on paper and on screen. In recent years, post-apocalyptic scenarios have become a central theme to various forms of speculative fiction. These narratives mobilize classic tropes of technophobia, post-colonial and post-capitalist discourses, social polarization and totalitarianism, bio-power, genetic engineering and environmentalism, in the context of perpetuated war and a culture of paranoia. The course looks at the ways these narratives reflect cultural anxieties and ethical dilemmas about the future. It asks to what extent they are rooted in, and influenced by, past cultural ideas about possible futures (in other words, the ‘history of future’), and to what extent they offer a progressive critical commentary on them. What is the ontological nature of ‘catastrophy’? How do we negotiate human evolution (biological, technical and ethical)? Can humanity transcend itself, and how will it negotiate its existence in a new ecology? By the end of the course students will have gained knowledge about the broader political and popular cultural contexts in which these narratives unfold, as well as about the complex ethical dilemmas they unmask.


Week 1                  Introduction

Week 2                  PostAp as Blockbuster: a historical overview

Week 3                  Contemporary post-apocalyptic Scenarios: the prevalence of catastrophy

Week 4                  YA context: Hunger Games and Divergent

Week 5                  Perpetuated Wars: The Edge of Tomorrow

Week 6                 Social polarization and the post-human: Elysium,

Week 7                  READING WEEK

Week 8                  Technology and the post-human: Almost Human, Extant, Helix

Week 9                  Zombie apocalypse: World War Z, Walking Dead

Week 10                Spaceship ethics: Ascension, The Expanse, Dark Matter

Week 11                Habitat and re-colonization: After Earth, Oblivion, Interstellar

Week 12                Conclusion and Summary



Suggested Readings:


-          Matthew Wolf-Meyer: ‘Apocalypse, Ideology, America: Science Fiction and the Myth of the Post-Apocalyptic Everyday’ rhizomes. Issue 8. (Spring 2004). <>

-          McKenzie Wark:  ‘Anthropo{mise-en-s}cène’. <> December 10, 2014

-          Barbarad Gurr (ed): Race, Gender and Sexuality in Post-Apocalyptic TV and Film. Palgrave, 2016.

-          Claire P. Curtis: Post-Apocapyptic Fiction and the Social Contract. Rowman &Littlefield, 2010.

-          Beatriz Scaglia: Visionary Film and the End of Times: A Profile of Post-Apocalyptic Movies. BiblioBazaar, 2011.

-          Sean Redmond and Leon Marvell (eds): Endangering Science Fiction Film. Routledge, 2016. (!!)

-          Lincoln Geraghty: American Science Fiction Film and Television. Berg, 2009.

-          Peter Boxall: Twenty-First-Century Fiction: A Critical Introduction. Cambridge University Press, 2013.

-          Erik Swyngedouw: ‘Apocalypse Forever? Post-political Populism and the Spectre of Climate Change’. Theory, Culture & Society.  March/May 2010 vol. 27 no. 2-3 213-232.

-          Stone, P.R (2013) ‘Dark Tourism, Heterotopias and Post-Apocalyptic Places: The Case of Chernobyl ‘. In L.White & E.Frew (Eds) Dark Tourism and Place Identity . Melbourne: Routledge. <>

-          Walliss, John; Aston, James:  ‘Doomsday America: The Pessimistic Turn of Post-9/11 Apocalyptic Cinema’.

Journal of Religion and Popular Culture 23.1 (Apr 2011): 53-64. <>  (!!)

-          Christopher Todd Anderson: ‘Post-Apocalyptic Nostalgia: WALL-E, Garbage, and American Ambivalence toward Manufactured Goods’. Literature Interpretation Theory. 23, 267-282, 2012.


-          Richard Crownshaw (2011). ‘Deterritorializing the “Homeland” in American Studies and American Fiction after 9/11’. Journal of American Studies, 45, pp 757-776. <>

-          Hollinger, Veronica. 2006. “Stories About the Future: From Patterns of Expectation to Pattern Recognition”. Science Fiction Studies 33 (3). SF-TH Inc: 452–72.

-          Amy Murphy: ‘Nothing Like New: Our Post-Apocalyptic Imagination as Utopian Desire’. Journal of Architectural Education. Vol. 67 Issue 2, 2013, 234-22. <>




regular attendance and participation (30%); presentation (30%); seminar paper (40%)