25 October 2017

The Apocalypse!

The apocalypse has been imagined by people for at least two-and-a-half millennia. Why do we have an ongoing fascination with the end of the world? This week, a look at how art, pop culture and religion have shaped how we think about doomsday.

Guest: John Watkins, Distinguished McKnight University Professor in the Department of English at the University of Minnesota


  • Part 1 – 12:04

    Ancient Iran, one theory suggests, is where apocalyptic predictions began. In the beginning of the Bronze Age, Watkins says, as agrarian people began to encounter others with bronze implements and chariots, “there was a sense that their way of life would be completely obliterated.” While our notion of the apocalypse changes with political and cultural shifts and is influenced by different religious viewpoints, in general, Watkins says, “the apocalypse seems to matter most when people feel that they are the victims of systemic oppression.”

  • Part 2 – 14:31

    Watkins’s class on the apocalypse will examine ancient and religious texts like the Zandi Vohuman Yast and the Book of Revelation and look at modern works like Walter M. Miller, Jr.’s sci-fi novel “A Canticle for Leibowitz” and Tony Kushner’s miniseries “Angels in America.”

    John Watkins is teaching a LearningLife course titled “The Apocalypse: A Cultural History” beginning 11/02/17; for more information go to: ccaps.umn.edu/LearningLife