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CLSG Autumn Conference 2016

Shaping Ends: Aspects of Apocalypse

Saturday 5 November 2016
Corpus Christi College, Oxford

Omega is one of the titles ascribed to God, and we cannot help interpreting anything that develops by what it becomes. Destiny, or Divinity in Shakespeare’s phrase, will shape human ends notwithstanding human efforts. Narratives, in the Bible and out of it, appear to demand resolutions, denouements, fulfilments, concords in their endings. Apocalypse, which offers to disclose what happens finally, and so to determine the meaning of everything, points to a bang rather than a whimper at the end of history, just as current cosmology posits one at the beginning.

‘The paradigms of apocalypse continue to lie under our ways of making sense of the world,’ suggests Frank Kermode (The Sense of an Ending: Studies in the Theory of Fiction, 1967). The Last Judgement featured in medieval mystery plays, and many contemporaries understood the events of the English Civil War to be taking place in the Last Days. Writers from Bede through Bunyan to Blake and Beckett refer to it. Every generation, every lifetime, almost every story has its Eindruckspunkte, moments of portent.

Between earth and heaven an apocalyptic or millennial stage will have the character not of regular temporality but of kairos, when everything is up in the air. In 1989 Francis Fukuyama suggested that ‘What we are witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or a passing of a particular period of postwar history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.’

Some suggestive titles of texts and discussions relating to apocalypse.

Call for Papers
Offers are invited of 25-minute papers to be read at the conference at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. About ten minutes will be allowed for questions and discussion, and the paper would be submitted for publication in The Glass. Details of the conference will be progressively updated on the CLSG website, where the conference leaflet containing the programme and booking information is due to appear by September.

The deadline for offers (email Dr Roger Kojecky, secretary@clsg.org) is 31 May 2016. Please add to your brief proposal a few words about your background, e.g. institutional affiliation, research interests.

Members and non-members welcome.

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The Christian Literary Studies Group in association with the Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship