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How to Navigate the Apocalypse

The end of the world has a long and healthy history. In this module, we will trace the development of (post)apocalyptic texts in the Western tradition, from its earliest beginnings in antiquity and Biblical narrative, to its rise in popularity during the modern era.

You will be prepped with an understanding of cultural and historical contexts, and attain access to a stockpile of essential critical resources. It will aid the development of a host of academic survival skills, from formulating a convincing argument to enhanced critical analysis.

Taking account of an eclectic range of texts that encompass film, television, and literature, we will explore how stories about the end of the world challenge assumptions about who we are, where we are from, and where we might be going. Assuming, that is, we are all still able to attend.

Learning and teaching

The module will be delivered asynchronously (i.e., you can study at times to suit you), with materials and writing prompts provided on a weekly basis. The course is made up of tutor audio/video recordings, student writing tasks, and use of discussion forums. The course will be hosted on Microsoft Teams to make the most effective use of the text-based elements of the course. There are no compulsory video calls. The main focus of the course is writing, reading and reflection.

You will be expected to complete writing tasks and reflection as part of your learning and assessment. You will be able to access and complete tasks for this asynchronous course at times to suit you. However, you will be expected to engage with activities on a weekly basis. This course is suitable for those wishing to polish and refine their writing skills, but also anyone who wants to get back into writing about literature, culture and film.

Topics are likely to include:

  • The Beginning of the End: Why study the apocalypse?
  • After the War 1: Daphne du Maurier’s ‘The Birds’ (1952) & Hitchcock’s The Birds (1963)
  • After the War 2: Samuel Beckett’s Endgame (1957)
  • The Atomic Age: Extracts from Nevil Chute’s On the Beach (1957) and Louise Lawrence’s Children of the Dust (1985)
  • Flood and Drought: Climate Fiction
  • Plague: Stephen King’s The Stand (ABC, 1994)
  • Aftermaths: The Leftovers (HBO, 2014)
  • Conclusions, reflections, hope

Primary texts listed here are indicative and may be changed. Please check with the course tutor before embarking upon any extensive reading

Coursework and assessment

To award credits we need to have evidence of the knowledge and skills you have gained or improved. Some of this has to be in a form that can be shown to external examiners so that we can be absolutely sure that standards are met across all courses and subjects.

The most important element of assessment is that it should enhance your learning. Our methods are designed to increase your confidence and we try very hard to devise ways of assessing you that are enjoyable and suitable for adults with busy lives.

You will complete a portfolio of written tasks in the form of a Learning Journal. Journals will be in the region of 1500-2000 words in length. Regular feedback will be provided throughout the course.

Reading suggestions

Students may like to explore some of the following texts before the module begins. All the texts below are available in digital format via the university’s library catalogue.

  • John J. Collins (ed), The Oxford Handbook of Apocalyptic Literature (OUP, 2014)
  • Daniel Cordle, ‘Protect/Protest: British nuclear fiction of the 1980s’, The British Journal for the History of Science (Special Issue: British Nuclear Culture), No 4, Vol 45 (2012)
  • Maria Manuel Lisboa, The end of the world: apocalypse and its aftermath in Western culture (Open Book, 2011)
  • Shelley Streeby, Imagining the Future of Climate Change: World-Making Through Science Fiction and Activism (University of California Press, 2018)
  • Andrew Tate, Apocalyptic Fiction (Bloomsbury, 2017)

Library and computing facilities

As a student on this course you are entitled to join and use the University’s library and computing facilities. Find out more about using these facilities.

Accessibility

Our aim is access for all. We aim to provide a confidential advice and support service for any student with a long term medical condition, disability or specific learning difficulty. We are able to offer one-to-one advice about disability, pre-enrolment visits, liaison with tutors and co-ordinating lecturers, material in alternative formats, arrangements for accessible courses, assessment arrangements, loan equipment and dyslexia screening.