Date of Award


Access Restriction


Degree Name

Master of Arts



School or College

Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

David A. Sánchez

Second Advisor

Amir Hussain


The genre of apocalypse has an irresistible draw. The concepts of beginning and end to humankind as well as the cosmos situate themselves in our daily stories, microcosmic narratives that repeat through time, placing the footprint of humankind a little more firmly into the earth, a place we have called our home from beginning and, naturally, to the end. In a world that constantly pushes forward to the next piece of technological equipment, reducing mass pandemics to mere over the counter solutions, and extending its hand into the abyss of the unknown universe, humanity craves the elusive next chapter in the novel of the world.

But what is to be attained when we reach the climax? When we are situated in the denouement? And finally, what happens when all is at an end? There is a universal truth of birth, and a universal truth of death (despite our advances to elude it). By that logic there must exist a macrocosmic version, a global scale birth, termed creation by many, and thus a large scale death.

But since death of the individual remains a complete mystery, many diverse factions exist. This extends to the global picture then, not only seeking inquiry into what happens after we (as in the individual) but when the entire world ceases to exist.

This thesis is an attempt to explore the genre of apocalypse for a deeper understanding of these questions and notions. With various systems in place, such as those put forth by John J. Collins and other apocalypse scholars, there exists a possibility to examine various iterations of apocalypses. By examining paradigm traits and tiers and the complications that arise with systemization, this thesis develops a methodology in which to include the functional take on various case studies of apocalypse. Generally reserved for examinations of sacred text, the expanded methodology presented here will seek to not only look at an example of said text, but also a secular text, two examples of ‘sacred function’, and one ideological example of a secular function. This study is not about changing the makeup of the paradigm, nor is it an effort to disprove criteria, nor tack on additional items. The goal is to use the paradigm to identify a more well-rounded view of the genre, and then see what can be gleaned from those categories and their prototypes. In doing so, the definition of the apocalypse genre will be more comprehensive, and thus beneficial for any avenue of study to which it is applied.