Critical Temporalities: Station Eleven and the Contemporary Post-Apocalyptic Novel

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This article examines Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven (2014) in the context of the growing body of contemporary post-apocalyptic fictions and what I argue is their critique of the apocalyptic tradition. Traditional apocalyptic narratives reveal a utopian teleology to history, a conception of time that deeply informs western modernity and its metanarratives. The contemporary post-apocalyptic novel, instead, is not only predominantly dystopian but articulates temporalities critical of the apocalyptic model of history to make space for unwritten futures which are key to agency. I focus on three elements, which reflect central features of this body of writings – the critical appropriation of religious apocalyptic logic, the critique of utopian teleology, and non-linear narrative structures – and parallel Mandel’s novel with three other key texts of the genre, Douglas Coupland’s Player One (2010), Cormac McCarthy’s The Road (2006) and David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas (2004).
Original languageEnglish
Article number37
Number of pages26
JournalOpen Library of Humanities
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 23 Nov 2018
Externally publishedYes


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