Royal Holloway Humanities and Arts Research Centre (HARC) – Centre for the Reception of Greece and Rome (CRGR) – Institute of Classical Studies (SAS) - British Library
Civilizational Collapse: Dystopian Imaginings of the Past, Present, and Future
(1880 – Present)
March 1st 2011
The fear of Civilization collapse is a thread that runs through much of the literature, cinema, and other media of the nineteenth and twentieth century. Whereas the Utopian moment is paradigmatically in the future, the Dystopic moment is paradigmatically in the past. Dark ages, political catastrophes, and apocalyptic ends haunt the modern. For the Western tradition, a key narrative is the ‘Fall of the Roman Empire’, but this is far from being the only catastrophic trope within modern and late-modern cultures. Twentieth-century ends of the world have ranged from alien invasion and self-destruction through to the misuse of technology or spectacular technological failure, extenuated class conflict, or an apathetic decline into barbarity or moral degeneration, alongside religious conflagration, environmental and climatic change. The sheer inventiveness of the manifold ways in which the world may be brought to an end encourages us to understand the apocalyptic urge as a central element within contemporary societies.
10: 00: Coffee and Registration
10. 30: Introduction
11: 00: Greg Claeys: Utopia: A return to definition
11: 40: Break/Discussion
11: 50: Lindsay Allen Finding identity in ruins: post-war children's literature
12: 10 James Kneale "This revelation of the possibilities of the universe": Apocalypse and after in Arthur Conan Doyle's Poison Belt
12: 30 Phiroze Vasunia Ends of Empires
1: 00 Lunch
2: 00: Discussion
2: 15: Patrick Parrinder Suburban Apocalypse (1880-1920)
2: 25: Richard Overy “Will Civilization Crash?" British anxieties between the World Wars
3: 00 Tea/Discussion
3: 20: Joanna Paul A Vesuvian Apocalypse: Imagining the End of the World at Pompeii
3: 40: Klaus Dodds Geographies of the end of the world: Hollywood and the contemporary disaster movie
3 55 : Discussion
4: 00 Ahuvia Kahane The Jewish Conception of Ruin
4: 30 Ika Willis Apocalypse Then: Carl Schmitt and Civil War
4: 50 Discussion
5: 00 Close
This workshop aims to investigate how and why the apocalyptic urge manifests itself in modern societies. Our research questions will consider
The link between the ‘End of the World’ and particular contemporary geopolitical formations.
The relationship of visions of the ‘End of the World’ to modes of social reproduction.
The ‘archaeology of knowledge’ in visions of apocalypse.
The meaning and nature of changes in the tropes of apocalyptic visions
To investigate these problems, we propose a multi-disciplinary approach to challenge methodological conventions and allow a triangulation of the emerging narrative within differing critical traditions. To this end, we invite contributions from across the arts, humanities and social sciences that address those aforementioned themes.
To book a place at the workshop, please contact r.alstonrhul.ac.uk or k.doddsrhul.ac.uk
Event sponsored by Royal Holloway Humanities and Arts Research Centre (HARC), Centre for the Reception of Greece and Rome (CRGR), Institute of Classical Studies (SAS) - British Library