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  1. The ends of centuries have often been marked by upheavals in both literature and politics. To what extent is contemporary apocalypticism, as seen on this Web site and in the literature and film of the late 1990s, simply a magnified response to the turn of a century which also happens to be the turn of a millennium? Compare some of these texts to the literature of the 1890s (NAEL 2.1740). What similarities do you find?
  2. The year 2000 is not the first millennium to leave an impact on human history and art. Many in Europe believed that the year 1000 would mark the apocalypse. What signs, if any, of premillenial tension do you find in the examples of Old English literature in NAEL (1.23–109)? How would the authors of The Dream of the Rood (NAEL 1.26–28), The Wanderer (NAEL 1.99–102) and The Battle of Maldon (NAEL 1.103–109) view the approach of the year 1000?
  3. Science fiction and science fact have often been blurred in twentieth-century art, and literature has provided an outlet for humanity's darkest fears about the future. But interest in the environment and concerns about humankind's influence on the planet have not been confined to the twentieth century. How, and to what extent, do Romantic admirers of picturesque landscape and Victorian writers on the problems of industrialism express anxiety about the impact of humanity's activities on the natural environment?
  4. A briefly powerful faction in the years of the English Civil War and Commonwealth were the Fifth Monarchists, who believed the apocalypse was at hand. What signs of millenarian feeling do you find in the selections gathered as "Voices of the War" (NAEL 1.1725–1753), and in Sir Thomas Browne's Hydriotaphia (NAEL 1.1578–1582). When did Browne think the world would end, and how did this belief shape his thought about time and human ambition?
  5. The Passing of the Arthur (NAEL 2.1293–1303), the last of Tennyson's Idylls of the King (NAEL 2.) is filled with apocalyptic foreboding.
    1. What is the vision of history and of Christian civilization's future in this poem? How does it compare to the vision of William Butler Yeats?
    2. What elements of millenarian thought are found in the medieval myth of King Arthur's return?
  6. Alfred Jones foresaw that "by the application of modern science even distant nations may be brought together in a few days to Armageddon."
    1. What is the relationship between modern technology in general, and the technology of warfare in particular, and apocalyptic feeling? Is millenarianism necessarily anti-scientific, or does science form part of its vision?
    2. What is the relation of military technology to thoughts of the apocalypse in Hardy's "Channel Firing" (NAEL 2.1944–1945), written a few months before the outbreak of the World War I?
  7. Much of Yeats's later poetry employs symbols and images drawn from the system of history described in "A Vision."
    1. How does this symbolism operate in poems such as "The Second Coming" (NAEL 2.2106–2107), "Leda and the Swan" (NAEL 2.2110–2111), "Sailing to Byzantium" (NAEL 2.2109–2110) and "Byzantium" (NAEL 2.2115–2116)?
    2. Is knowledge of the "system" necessary to a proper understanding of these poems, or are there limits to its usefulness as an aid in interpretation?
  8. By comparing Yeats's "Second Coming" (NAEL 2.2106–2107) and related works with the prophetic and apocalyptic verse of James Thomson (NAEL 1.2822), Blake (NAEL 2.35), and Shelley (NAEL 2.698), can we place Yeats within a tradition of prophetic, visionary, or "Bardic" poetry?
  9. What relation, if any, can you detect between Yeats's evolving vision of history and his changing views on Irish nationalism, as expressed in No Second Troy (NAEL 2.2098), September 1913 (NAEL 2.2099), Easter 1916 (NAEL 2.2014–2016) and Under Ben Bulben (NAEL 2.2121–2123)?
  10. At the end of the twentieth century, apocalyptic thought had an appeal across the political spectrum.
    1. Where do you see apocalyptic ideas and images being employed in contemporary political discourse, and to what end? Is the idea of the apocalypse, in its essence, "progressive" or "conservative"?
    2. Two hundred years ago, the French Revolution aroused apocalyptic expectations. How do those expectations compare to those aroused at the end of the twentieth century?

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