The Contrary of Revelation: Apocalypse and the Epistemology of Horror

(Panel)


Cultural Studies and Media Studies / Interdisciplinary Humanities

Eleanor Gold (SUNY University at Buffalo)

Ever since Paul J. Crutzen popularized the use of the term ‘Anthropocene’ to describe our current epoch, the word has carried apocalyptic implications: visions of a world in which human civilization has collapsed or the species has been totally eradicated from planet Earth. Meanwhile, new movements in contemporary philosophy from speculative realism to new materialism and beyond have sought to disrupt Enlightenment ontologies that place human beings in a centralized position for either philosophy or environmental thought. The Anthropocene, however, is only the latest manifestation of attempts to conceptualize massive destruction on a global scale. Julia Kristeva describes apocalypse as “the contrary of revelation of philosophical truth,” as something which cannot be encompassed or described--and yet we keep trying. The increasing awareness of global climate change, economic strife, political upheaval and epidemiological crises spurs a multitude of responses from writers, artists, and scholars seeking to illustrate or interrogate the ultimate epistemological rift inherent in the end of life itself.

This panel invites papers that address various media interpretations and conceptualizations of the apocalypse, including fiction, film, television, graphic novels, etc. Potential lines of inquiry include: Should apocalyptic fictions be considered their own genre? How do other genres intersect with apocalyptic narratives? Is apocalypse the end of all life, or merely human life? And what, if anything, might come after? How do we cope with a world in which humans are no longer the center of the ontological schema? What does the apocalypse imply about the concepts of personhood and individuality? And what does the apocalypse, or the possibility of a “posthuman” world, mean for the current practice of the Humanities?

The increasing awareness of global climate change, economic strife, political upheaval and epidemiological crises spurs a multitude of responses from writers, artists, and scholars seeking to illustrate or interrogate the ultimate epistemological rift inherent in the end of life itself. This panel invites papers that address various media interpretations and conceptualizations of the apocalypse, including fiction, film, television, graphic novels, etc.