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Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

Apocalypse Now and Then Seminar - English Doomsday Drama

28th February 2011, 17:30 to 18:30, IAS Seminar Room, Cosin's Hall, Palace Green, Professor Pamela King (Bristol University)

How do you make the end of the world convincingly immediate in a medieval city street? This seminar will focus on the theological and aesthetic choices we deduce from the surviving texts and records of the only medieval religious plays that look into the future.

For example: What do the plays tell us about the perceived relationship between Doomsday (Matthew 25) and Apocalypse (Revelations)? There is only one God in the Trinity, but where do all the devils come from? And what kinds of techniques in writing performance poetry did the dramatists deploy to supplement the range of visual effects available to them?"

Depictions of apocalypse - understood as revelation and/or the end of the world, in both religious and secular discourses - serve a variety of functions, ranging from the political to the scientific, and the theological to the anthropological. They can reinforce or subvert power structures, interrogate what it is to be human, and figure the future in order to reflect on the present. This interdisciplinary seminar series brings together experts from a number of disciplines to reflect on two intertwined themes. The first explores the functions served by end-of-world narratives and pictures, that is, it focuses on why apocalyptic stories are told rather than on what particular stories are told. The second analyses the ways in which the apocalyptic is characterized by a relationship with particular sorts of form, language and image, for example, metaphors and fictions, pictures, performances, and poems.

Contact kathryn.banks2@durham.ac.uk for more information about this event.