Apocalyptic visions

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Apocalypse and utopia represent opposite projections of the future but also share significant formal similarities and serve similar functions of narrative sense-making. In their traditional forms, both apocalypse and utopia imagine decisive breaks in human history and produce what Frank Kermode calls the "sense of an ending." In contemporary forms, both open speculative space by drawing attention to the conspicuous absence of confident endings. These characteristics help explain why apocalypse and utopia often converge in postapocalyptic fictions and how such fictions try to make sense of global systems and the Anthropocene. Critics debate the generic effects and historical implications of using postapocalyptic fictions for utopian speculations; most find the convergence problematic at best. I argue that we ought to explore more precisely the situated materiality of narrative meaning-making from what McKenzie Wark calls the "labor point of view," in order to work toward ecological precision about the human reliance on narrative sense-making that Kermode observed and for which intersections of utopia and apocalypse produce such provocative examples.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Palgrave Handbook of Utopian and Dystopian Literatures
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9783030886547
ISBN (Print)9783030886530
StatePublished - Mar 15 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences

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