Millennial Literatures of the Americas, 1492-2002

Millennial Literatures of the Americas, 1492-2002

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This bracing and far-ranging study compares modern (post-1492) literary treatments of millenarian narratives-"end of the world" stories charting an ultimate battle between good and evil that destroys previous social structures and rings in a lasting new order. While present in many cultures for as long as tales have been told, these accounts take on a profound dramatic resonance in the context of Europe's centuries-long colonization of the American hemisphere. With an impressive interdisciplinary approach that employs insights from history, ethnography, and theology, Thomas O. Beebee provides nuanced readings of the apocalyptic vision in a diverse group of forms and writers, stretching from the letters of Christopher Columbus to the lyrics of Bob Marley and Bob Dylan, the poetry of Ernesto Martinez, and the bestselling novels of the Left Behind franchise, among other works. Throughout, he pointedly illustrates how millennial discourse has been used as a technology of control to further national and imperial agendas while paradoxically, often simultaneously, serving the forces of resistance. Drawing on a wide variety of records, his analysis shows that repeated eruptions of imagined, epochal conflicts reveal native populations fighting against the eradication of traditional ways of life, making sense of unprecedented violence, and searching for sources of origin. It seems that Americans-North, South, Middle, and Caribbean-tend to define themselves by narrating their End. Informed by extensive research and an imaginative marshalling of diverse insights, Beebee presents a comprehensive comparative treatment of millennial themes in works from English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish. In so doing, he illustrates that prophesies of telos, and the literature that imagines them, provide a vital context for understanding the connected yet distinct cultures that have shaped the American more

Product details

  • Hardback | 264 pages
  • 158 x 236 x 22mm | 521.63g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 2 black-and-white photographs, 2 line illustrations
  • 019533938X
  • 9780195339383

Review quote

Beebee's masterful, complex, and panoramic study of the role of apocalyptic thought in American literature, from the earliest centuries to the latest avatars, offers a magnificent introduction to this fundamental dimension of American culture. Using an impressive array of texts from anthropology, history, literature, song lyrics (Bob Dylan!), theology, philosophy, psychology, and more, weaving back and forth between centuries and continents, he takes his readers on a dazzling journey through the millennial mind. * Richard Landes, Director and Co-Founder of the Center for Millennial Studies, Boston University *show more

About Thomas O. Beebee

Thomas O. Beebee is Professor of Comparative Literature & German at the Pennsylvania State University. His publications include Clarissa on the Continent, The Ideology of Genre, Epistolary Fiction in Europe, and Geographies of Nation and Region in Modern more

Table of contents

Introduction: Eschatechnologies of the Americas ; 1. The New Jerusalem - Land Without Evil ; 2. Hybrid Messiahs ; 3. Tribulations of the Late Nineteenth Century ; 4. Kingdoms of This World: Millennial Literature as Reflective Dissonance ; 5. Golden Flying Saucers: Ernesto Cardenal and Millennial UFO-ology ; 6. The Old, Millennial America: Bob Dylan and the Tradition(s) ; 7. The DNA of the Lamb: The Race for the End (Times) in Millennial Fiction ; Conclusion ; Notes ; Works Citedshow more