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

Brief Description:

This course (the recipient of the 1999-2000 Marymount Institute for Faith, Culture, and the Arts award) tries to weave together into a coherent conversation:

  1. biblical texts and traditions (and related non-canonical ancient materials) that provide the foundation for apocalyptic fears, utopian dreams, and other millennial ideas;
  2. sociological theory pertaining to millenarian and utopian movements, with the study of several concrete social movements in recent history and the contemporary era; and
  3. 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):

  1. 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]
  2. Reddish, Mitchell G., ed. Apocalyptic Literature: A Reader. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1990.
  3. Robbins, Thomas and Susan J. Palmer, eds. Millennium, Messiahs and Mayhem: Contemporary Apocalyptic Movements. London: Routledge, 1997.
  4. DeLillo, Don. White Noise. New York: Viking, 1985.
  5. Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid's Tale. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1986.
  6. West, Nathanael. Day of the Locust. New York: NAL/Dutton, 1983.
  7. Supplemental readings listed on the detailed class schedule (below), available on Regular and Electronic Reserve in the LMU Library or on the course webpage:
Reference Works to be used regularly (available in the LMU Library):
  1. Anchor Bible Dictionary. 6 vols. New York: Doubleday, 1992. - Ref. BS440 A54 1992
  2. HarperCollins Bible Dictionary. Rev. ed. San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1996. - Ref. BS440 H235 1996
  3. The Encyclopedia of Apocalypticism. 3 vols. New York: Continuum, 1998. - Reserve BL501 E53 1998
  4. Bibloi CD-ROM Program - available on the LMU Library Reference Area Computers
  5. Links and Resources for Revelation & Apocalyptic -
  6. PBS "Frontline: Apocalypse" -
  7. Other Webpages and Electronic Resources listed on our detailed Course Schedule below.
Prerequisites/Recommended Background: Course Mechanics: Course Work/Expectations:
  1. 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 course grade.
  2. 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   [not available after Fall 2000]
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Course Homepage    /    Description & Syllabus    / Readings & Resources    /    Questions & Reflections    /    Final Group Projects

This page was last updated on 07/01/01