​A wide range of courses that feature “The End of the World” as a major component of instruction or research are planned for the 2018–2019 academic year. While this list aims to be as inclusive as possible for courses offered by the college, it’s not yet complete. Watch this space for more courses as their details are finalized.

Fall 2018

The American Revolution (HST 303)

Dr. Dirk Jan Wolffram (University of Groningen), Tues./Thurs. 12:30–1:45pm

While this course normally focuses exclusively on the American Revolution, visting exchange professor Dr. Wolffram will offer a special version that also features the comparative history of other modern revolutions.

The Civil War and Reconstruction (HST 515)

Dr. Michelle Cassidy, Mon./Weds. 5:00–6:15pm

The Civil War is by common consent the great turning point in U.S. history. This course examines not only the end of old worlds but also their persistence and transformation. And what happened after the end the world, anyway? How did African Americans, for example — or Native Americans — experience the war and its aftermath?

Comparative Environmental History (HST 302)

Dr. Brittany Fremion, Tues./Thurs. 2:00–3:15pm

For obvious reasons, the environment is a major topic for Critical Engagements in 2018–2019. This course investigates complex relationships between humans and nature, considering such questions as why weeds, pigs, and germs were more important in colonial expansion than military campaigns.

France at War in the Twentieth Century (FRN 423WI)

Dr. Christi Brookes, Tues./Thurs. 11:00am–12:15pm 

From the late-nineteenth-century roots of World War I through the aftermath of the Algerian War, this course examines representations of France's major twentieth-century conflicts. In particular, we will be focusing on the ways in which certain ways of being ended and how some worlds did in fact end in the wake of war and peace.

The French Revolution and Napoleonic Period (HST 347)

Dr. Doina Harsanyi, Mon./Weds. 2:00–3:15pm

The French Revolution marked the end of an age in multiple ways — politically, socially, and culturally — while for many of its aristocrats and early leaders, it was the end of the world in a distressingly literal way. This courses examines the origin and development of the French Revolution and the role of Napoleon in European history from 1787 to 1815.

Philosophy of Psychology: Human Minds, Artificial Minds (PHL 335) 

Dr. Matthew Katz, Mon./Weds. 2:00–3:15pm

Psychology is the study of mind, but what are minds, such that we can study them scientifically? Some say the mind is a computer, but what does that mean? Does it mean that our personal computers have (or might someday have) minds of their own? And if so, should we be worried? Will artificial intelligence spell the end of humanity? Or will it be just another time-saving technological advancement? This class will consider these and other questions central to the philosophy of psychology.

Science Fiction and Fantasy (ENG 323)

Dr. Nicole Sparling, Mon./Weds. 3:30–4:45pm

This course features (among other books) the 2018–2019 common read, Station Eleven, in the course of examining critical questions relating to dystopia and the end of the world.  

Stress (PSY 459)

Tues./Thurs. 12:30–1:45 or Online

Stress shortens lives, and worrying about the end of the world is stressful (for most people). This course defines stress and how to measure it, evaluates evidence about causes/correlates of stress, and introduces strategies to deal with stress. 

The Vietnam War (HST 315)

Dr. Mitchell Hall, Tues./Thurs. 9:30–10:45am

Apocalypse Now.

World Religions (REL 101WI)

Dr. Talat Halman, Tues./Thurs. 9:30–10:45AM or 12:30–1:45PM

Many of the world‘s religions involve eschatology: formal or informal beliefs and teachings about the end of the world. As it examines world religions in comparative perspective, this course puts eschatological questions in their social and cultural context.

Spring 2019

Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (HST 338)

Dr. Gregory Smith

The dissolution of the Roman Empire is the grandaddy of all decline-and-fall stories, at least in western history. Travelers to Rome have mused for centuries about the end of a world that once seemed eternal, and whose ruins still inspire wonder. But it is also a surprisingly complicated story—and not just because the later Roman empire was increasingly full of Christians with disparate ideas about the end of the world. This course examines both the concept of decline and the fascinating history of the Roman world from about 285 to 650 CE.

The End of the World, French Style: French Literature in Translation (FRN 325WI)

Dr. Amy J. Ransom

The “End of the World” means different things in different cultures. French and Francophone writers have imagined the end of the world as a result of religious apocalypse, ecological disaster, pandemic illness, alien invasion, or humanity’s evolution into its next phase. We will read fascinating translations of these stories that are familiar to today’s viewers and readers, but yet very different and unique reflections of French-speaking cultures.

From Gospel to Apocalypse (REL 260WI)

Dr. Kelly Murphy 

Intensive study of selected portions of New Testament literature, with an introduction to the Hellenistic-Roman age through study of selected background documents. The course will examine Biblical views of the end of time. 

From Revelation to the Walking Dead (REL 397WI)

Dr. Kelly Murphy

This is a course looking at apocalyptic thinking across time, from the Bible to current pop culture.

Shakespeare at the End of the World (ENG 349WI)

Dr. Kristen McDermott

Students will read Station Eleven (which features a troupe of Shakespearean actors and makes many allusions to Shakespeare plays) along with some of Shakespeare's late and apocalyptic plays —King Lear, of course, as well as Macbeth, Hamlet, The Winter's Tale, The Tempest, and others. We'll explore how Shakespeare's plays respond to his own culture's fears about world-ending disasters (the death of Queen Elizabeth, outbreaks of the bubonic plague, the Gunpowder Plot, religious wars, etc.) as well as the utopian thinking of his time that inspired literary artists to imagine alternative “brave new worlds.”