ENGL 402 B1: Studies in Genre: Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic Writing in Canada

M. Carrière

With its biblical images of Revelation, phenomenal destruction and mythical endings, apocalyptic narrative has been part of Canadian literature from its earliest settler-invader inceptions. In this seminar, the study of apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic writing will stem from a more general consideration of contemporary moments of global crisis in which Canada is caught up: the COVID-19 pandemic and, more widely, the “apocalyptic zero point” (Žižek) of the current ecological crisis, consequences of biogenetics, and social and economic imbalances, divisions and exclusions. Our inquiry will focus on the apocalyptic tropes that create or run through dystopian and speculative fiction and poetry in twenty-first-century Canadian, Indigenous, and Québécois writing (M. Atwood, N. Dickner, T. King, L. Lai, E. St. John Mandel, S. Nawaz). The sense of an ending – of worlds, epistemologies, entire communities, human and nonhuman life – looms large in the primary texts under study. However, we will also analyse these literary works’ affirmative gestures of ironic subversion, resistance, care and ethical intervention. Format and activities will include collaborative class work, short critical and creative responses, and research writing.