The Millennium Cometh: Apocalypse and Utopia in Bible, Sociology and Literature Profs. John Coleman, S.J.
(Sociology), Felix Just, S.J. (Theology),
Holli Levitsky (English) Loyola Marymount University - Spring 2000
Course Description and Syllabus
This course (the recipient of the 1999-2000 Marymount Institute for
Faith, Culture, and the Arts award) tries to weave together into a coherent
biblical texts and traditions (and related non-canonical ancient
materials) that provide the foundation for apocalyptic fears, utopian dreams,
and other millennial ideas;
sociological theory pertaining to millenarian and utopian movements,
with the study of several concrete social movements in recent history and
the contemporary era; and
literary examples of utopian or dystopian visions, with special
attention to the aesthetics of the millennium through theories of the sublime
and the grotesque in the visual arts.
This course will also attend to themes of rupture in time
and aesthetic sensibility, feminist visions, the holocaust, and our own
city, Los Angeles, from apocalyptic perspectives. It will be informed by
biblical, sociological and literary theory, and by concrete attention to
texts, social movements, art and films. As we begin a new millennium, we
ask, what are the various ways people have imagined or attempted to inaugurate
millennial time/space reality? How have they seen or anticipated a new
millennium? What does a millennial view add to history and society?
Required Textbooks (all textbooks and novels
available at the LMU bookstore):
Meeks, Wayne, ed. The HarperCollins Study Bible. New York: HarperCollins,
1993. [or another translation of the Bible that includes both the Old and
New Testaments and the Apocrypha]
Other Webpages and Electronic Resources listed on our detailed Course Schedule
Junior or Senior standing and permission from one of the instructors is
This course is also open to graduate students in the English Department
for graduate credit.
It also fulfills the requirement for a critical social theory course in
the LMU Honors Program.
This course has been sub-divided into seven different but inter-related
The first six blocks are thematically arranged, with professors' lectures
and student discussions.
The seventh block will be presentations of the students' group research
projects and webpages.
In addition to the readings and lectures, we will often incorporate film
clips and internet resources.
All three professors and the T.A. will attend each class session throughout
On most days one professor will give the main lecture, with brief input
from the other two profs.
On a few days, all three profs. will have more equally divided input, as
in a "panel discussion."
We will try to schedule a few guest lecturers, and possibly also one "field
trip" to a museum.
On the last Thursday of each block, we will break up into three smaller
groups for "discussion sections."
You will receive preparatory questions to help guide your readings of all
the texts in each block.
Students will remain in the same discussion groups throughout the semester,
but the profs. will rotate.
We will also rotate the grading of your written reflections, so each prof.
will grade two of your papers.
Our T.A. will mainly assist the profs., but will also be available to help
students with the group projects.
She might be able to recommend resources for your research, but will not
do the research for you.
She will mostly provide help with the technological aspects of the composition
of your webpages.
She will give a few short presentations to the class, and/or you can make
Attendance: It should go without saying that on-time attendance
at all lectures and discussion sessions is both common courtesy and essential
for learning. Please let us know about any unavoidable absences or emergencies.
More than two unexcused absences will result in the lowering of your final
Reading: Please read the assigned books, essays, webpages, and other
materials before class on the days listed in the detailed schedule
below. Readings not found in the main textbooks and novels are on regular
and electronic reserve at the LMU library. Your password to access the
E-Res system is "Y2K". See http://eres.lmu.edu/cgi-bin/eres/viewcourse.pl?THST398_JUST
[not available after Fall 2000]
Writing: You will be asked to write six short (2-3 page) reflection
papers, which are due at the beginning of the scheduled Thursday discussions,
and will thus provide the basis for our small-group discussions. Specific
instructions on the topics for each paper will be handed out at least two
weeks in advance.
Final Project: In lieu of a final exam, groups of 2-3 students will
create and present a set of webpages on a topic related to our course (see
the last page of this syllabus for more details). These webpages will be
published as a permanent part of the course website and/or at other locations
on LMU's website.
Graduate Students: English Dept. students taking this course for
graduate credit may be required to do some extra written work; please see
Prof. Levitsky for details.
Course Grades:A: 90-100%, B: 80-89%, C: 70-79%, D: 60-69%, F: (hopefully not necessary!)
[Letter +/- within 3% --
e.g. A- 90-92%, B+ 87-89% ]
On-Time Attendance: 10%
Class Participation & Reading Preparation: 30%
Six Short Written Reflections: 30%
Final Group Projects/Presentations: 30%Legal Disclaimer:
This "syllabus" is subject to modifications that might be announced
during the course of the semester.