Date of Graduation

8-2019

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in English (PhD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

English

Advisor

M. Keith Booker

Committee Member

Robert Cochran

Second Committee Member

Susan Marren

Keywords

anti-anti-utopian, apocalypse, Canadian literature, capitalism, geopolitical change, late capitalism, society, utopia

Abstract

From Frank Kermode to Norman Cohn to John Hall, scholars agree that apocalypse historically has represented times of radical change to social and political systems as older orders are wiped away and replaced by a realignment of respective norms. This paradigm is predicated upon an understanding of apocalypse that emphasizes the rebuilding of communities after catastrophe has occurred. However, in the last half-century, narratives that emphasize the destruction of human civilization without this restorative component have begun to overshadow the more historically popular post-apocalyptic models that were particularly abundant during the early days of the Cold War. In light of the sentiment discussed by both Fredric Jameson and Slavoj Zizek that it is now easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism, this project examines the effects of late capitalism on our conceptions of catastrophe, specifically the erosion of public welfare in the wake of corporate deregulation that seeks to maximize private profit. These literatures also interrogate the utopian political messaging coded within the failed promises of capitalism’s advancement. As such, apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic texts function in a mode of the ani-anti-utopian genre that Jameson calls for, as they reveal the political strategies of division that impede progress toward social, environmental, and economic justice.

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