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Apocalyptic Transformation - Elizabeth K. Rosen

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Apocalyptic Transformation - Apocalypse and the Postmodern Imagination
Elizabeth K. Rosen
Paperback / softback
Lexington Books
UK Publication Date

Since its inception, the story of the apocalypse has been used as a means by which to understand the world and one's place in it. The appeal of the apocalyptic myth is largely rooted in its ability to make sense of instances of crisis by incorporating those crises into a larger plan for history and an end of time that God has planned. Apocalypse is both an organizing principle to be imposed on an overwhelming, seemingly-disordered universe and a fundamentally moral story which offers hope of a new world where good and evil can be clearly delineated and addressed. But all of the traditional functions and comforts of the apocalyptic myth are challenged when the myth collides with postmodernism. The characteristics that define a work as postmodern ultimately destabilize the traits that make the apocalyptic myth unique. Using the work of Terry Gilliam, Don DeLillo, Kurt Vonnegut, and other writers in the genre, Apocalyptic Transformation examines the collision of the postmodern mode and the apocalyptic myth, explores the process of secularizing this religious story and the reasons for doing so, and asks the question: What happens when an author undermines the grand narrative of the apocalypse?

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Elizabeth K. Rosen is a visiting assistant professor at Lafayette College.

Apocalyptic Transformations: Apocalypse and the Postmodern Imagination is a fine example of why literature and literary criticism matter in today's world. Elizabeth Rosen demonstrates the continuing relevance in postmodern fiction, film, and graphic texts of that grandest of all grand narratives, Apocalypse. In lucid and engaging prose, Rosen details how contemporary writers and filmmakers have modified the story of Apocalypse in the aftermath of the death of God. Examining the work of some of the most respected American authors of the second half of the twentieth century as well as popular forms such as the Matrix films and comic books, Rosen illuminates the persistence of Apocalypse in the contemporary imagination. In their efforts to rescript the end of the world and what might follow it, she convincingly argues, contemporary apocalyptists offer hope, a way of seeing beyond the end, and a way out of the world view in which devastation by nuclear war or some other disaster is unavoidable. Apocalyptic Transformations is important in showing that postmodern narratives offer an alternative path to that mapped by the fatalistic, self-fulfilling prophecy of traditional Apocalypse.
Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society - Karen Alexander

Elizabeth K. Rosen understands more of my work than I do.
Terry Gilliam

Rosen offers an impressive review of previous criticism on selected works without resorting to specialized jargon, thus producing a book that is refreshingly readable. Her approach is unique . . . . Helpful endnotes accompany each chapter . . . . Recommended.
CHOICE, August 2008

One of the most enjoyable books I have read in awhile. I appreciated the diversity of cultural sources that Rosen drew upon in consideration of apocalypse, including graphic novels, books, and film. A solid consideration of how differing visions of the New Jerusalem speak to the late modern imagination.
Morehead's Musings - John W. Morehead

We cannot fully appreciate contemporary art without acknowledging its apocalyptic dimension. Elizabeth K. Rosen's interpretation of major works of postmodern literature and film is an important guide to the unchartered territory where fear and hope, eternity and immediacy, the finite and the infinite all come together in the unfulfillable desire to comprehend the end before it comes.
Zbigniew Lewicki, University of Warsaw

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