Post apocalyptic theory reading list
When I was embarking on my thesis early last year, I discovered a distinct lack of online discussion of post apocalyptic theory. Sure I could find a fairly extensive wikipedia reading list of post apocalyptic fiction, but there just didn’t seem to be a good starting point for exploring post apocalyptic theory from a more academic perspective.
Hence, I thought I would kick things off by laying down the reading list I developed for the various post apocalyptic theories explored in my own thesis.
For ease of use, I have tried to group the readings into the various ‘theoretical disciplines’. Most of these texts can be accessed via regularly available journal databases or Google Scholar.
Let me know if it helps. If you want to add to this list, leave a comment at the bottom.
Trauma and the Post Apocalyptic
The following texts deal specifically with representations of trauma in fiction, and can be used to link post apocalyptic literature to trauma theory.
Berger, James. After the End: Representations of Post-Apocalypse. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999. This is probably the best and most comprehensive book written about post apocalyptic theory and covers it from a number of angles (trauma, marxism, holocaust and cyborg theory).
Caruth, Cathy. “Introduction” in Trauma: Explorations in Memory. Ed. Cathy Caruth. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995. pp. 3–12. Not explicitly about post apocalyptic, but Caruth is a key player in trauma theory and this peice develops strong links between the two disciplines.
Caruth, Cathy. Introduction : The Wound and the Voice in Unclaimed Experience: Trauma, Narrative, and History. Baltimore and London. The John Hopkins University Press. 1996, 1-9
Freud, Sigmund. “The Paths to the Formation of Symptoms” in The Essentials of Psychoanalysis. Ed. Anna Freud. Trans. James Strachey. London: Penguin, 1986 (1916). pp. 539–555. Ahh Freud, you have kept me up many sleepless nights trying to decipher your psychobabble. Symptoms and post apocalypse have a lot in common, so this text is a foundation for linking trauma and post apocalyptic.
Garland, Caroline. “Trauma and the Possibility of Recovery” in Introducing Psychoanalysis. Eds. Susan Budd and Richard Rusbridger. New York: Routledge, 2005. pp 246–261. Once again, not explicitly related to post apocalyptic at all. But in trying to link trauma and post apocalypse, you’ll need a good understanding of psychoanalysis. Budd’s article is a nice introduction and quite easy to read.
Jung, Berenike. Narrating Violence in Post-9/11 Action Cinema: Terrorist Narratives, Cinematic Narration and Referentiality ; [in "V for Vedetta", "Munich", and "ChildrenofMen "]. Wiesbaden: VS, Verl. für Sozialwiss. 2010. Print.
Kirmayer, Laurence. “Landscapes of Memory: Trauma Narrative and Dissociation” in Tense Past: Cultural Essays in Trauma and Memory. Eds. Paul Antze and Michael Lambek. London: Routledge, 1996. pp. 173–198. The concept of a “traumatused landscape” is very important to post apocalypse – I think you can understand why.
Lowenstein, Adam. Introduction: The Allegorical Moment in Shocking Representation: Historical Trauma, National Cinema, And The Modern Horror Film. New York. Columbia University Press. 2005. 1-16.Print.
McCarthy, Cormac. The Road. New York: Vintage Books, 2006. Not a theoretical book at all, but a great example of traumatic post apocalyptic fiction. One of my favourite books of all time!
Vickroy, Laurie. Trauma and Survival in Contemporary Fiction. Charlottesville: Virginia Press, 2002. A great overview of trauma in modern fiction, with strong links between the role of survivors in trauma fiction and the post apocalyptic.
Whitehead, Anne. Trauma Fiction. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2004. Once again, a good overview of the genre, helped me to identify the links between trauma and post apocalyptic.
Post-human or Zombie theory (Just building this one out, suggestions welcome)
Bishop, Kyle William. American Zombie Gothic: The Rise and Fall (and Rise) of the Walking Dead in Popular Culture. Jefferson, North Carolina, London. McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. 2010. Print.
Apocalyptic theory (ie the end of the world is nigh)
These texts deal with the pre-apocalyptic state, exploring questions of why such texts exist and continue to be popular.
Zamora, Lois. Writing the Apocalypse. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989.
Pippin, Tina. Apocalyptic Bodies: the Biblical End of the World in Text and Image. London: Routledge, 1999.
Zimbaro, Valerie. Encyclopedia of Apocalyptic Literature. California: ABC-Clio, 1996.
Kermode, Frank. The Sense of an Ending: Studies in the Theory of Fiction. New ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.
Keep, Christopher. “An Absolute Acceleration: Apocalypticism and the War Machines of Waco.” Postmodern Apocalypse: Theory and Cultural Practice at the End. Ed. Richard Dellamora. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1995. 262- 273.
Baudrillard, Jean. The Illusion of the End. Trans. Chris Turner. UK: Polity Press, 1994.
Missed any? Leave your suggestion below.
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