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WSU Humanities Center symposium to explore fascination with the apocalypse

November 9, 2012

The Humanities Center at Wayne State University is pleased to announce its annual fall symposium: Apocalyptic Imagination on Friday, Nov. 16.

The symposium will explore a variety of inter-related issues in order to theorize and historicize the persistent fascination with apocalypse. Professors from universities worldwide will come together to present lectures examining the apocalyptic imaginary as related to topics including but not limited to the following: the "end of days" and popular fiction; religion and theology; disaster capitalism; economic, financial, and technological meltdown; global warming; disease and pestilence; media, war, terror, environment, millennial fantasies, and effects of apocalypse on political thought and organization.

A focal point for the apocalyptic imagination in much popular discourse, the year 2012 provides an appropriate occasion to consider the way the idea of apocalypse functions within and informs our collective historical imagination. Numerous politicians, writers, religious groups, as well as works of literature, film, and the culture industry in general now regularly deploy imagery of cataclysmic destruction and the end-of-the-world.

Douglas Kellner, the George F. Kneller Chair in the Philosophy of Education at the University of California, Los Angeles, will present the keynote presentation, “Apocalyptic Imagination in Contemporary Hollywood Cinema.” Kellner is a "third generation" critical theorist in the tradition of the Frankfurt Institute for Social Research. Kellner was an early theorist of the field of critical media literacy and has been a leading theorist of media culture generally. In his recent work, he has increasingly argued that media culture has become dominated by the forms of spectacle and mega-spectacle. He also has contributed important studies of alter-globalization processes, and has always been concerned with counter-hegemonic movements and alternative cultural expressions in the name of a more radically democratic society. Kellner has written with a number of authors, including an award-winning trilogy of books on postmodern turns in philosophy, the arts, and in science and technology. More recently, he is known for his work exploring the politically oppositional potentials of new media and attempted to delineate what they term "multiple technoliteracies" as a movement away from the present attempt to standardize a corporatist form of computer literacy. The fall symposium will conclude with complementary reception. 

A full schedule can be found at

The Humanities Center strives to promote scholarly research and discussion by offering numerous programs, events, and grants to faculty and graduate students in the arts and humanities.

Wayne State University is a premier institution offering more than 350 academic programs through 11 schools and colleges to more than 34,000 students. For more information please call the Humanities Center at (313) 577-5471 or visit our website at