Poetics of the End: Time, Space and Vision in Contemporary Apocalyptic Narratives

Mikko Mäntyniemi

Research output: Book/ReportDoctoral thesisMonograph


This study analyses the different textual techniques in contemporary apocalyptic narratives. The main research questions of this study are: how is the end of time represented in apocalyptic narratives? What features and characteristics does an apocalyptic space possess? What kind of vision of the world do apocalyptic narratives present to the reader? To answer these questions, this study analyses three primary works: James Van Pelt’s Summer of the Apocalypse (2006), Claire Vaye Watkins’ Gold Fame Citrus (2015), and Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven (2014). All of these works foreground some essential aspect of apocalyptic narratives and exemplify the textual practices used to represent these aspects. Aside from the primary works, attention is paid to the long historical tradition of apocalyptic narratives in the Anglophone countries and to notable works in that tradition. This work relies on different theoretical frameworks when analysing aspects of apocalyptic narratives: narrative theory when focusing on temporal constructs, spatial and urban studies when examining the spatial features, and previous studies on apocalyptic tradition when analysing vision aspects.

The work is divided into three analysis sections, each section focusing on one of the primary works: time in Summer of the Apocalypse, space in Gold Fame Citrus, and vision in Station Eleven. The introduction focuses on defining the concept of the apocalypse and the historical progression of the apocalyptic literary tradition. The first section focuses on the formal temporal structure of apocalyptic narratives. The firstB section also analyses apocalyptic temporality through Gilles Deleuze’s (2006 [1993]) concept of the fold and proposes that the fold can be used to explain the different temporal techniques in apocalyptic narratives. The second section examines the spatial features found in apocalyptic narratives and analyses spatial features as folded spaces. The third section studies the different visions of the world and the characters who are witnessing the apocalyptic world.

This work argues for the following results: first, we cannot designate different sub-genres to apocalyptic narratives, like the “post-apocalypse”; all narratives about the end of the world are governed by the logic of the apocalypse. Second, we cannot define the specific moment of the apocalypse in any narrative, and instead it is more productive to approach the apocalypse as a process or an event that has already happened and at the same time is still to come. Third, apocalyptic narratives construct complex temporal and spatial relations that cannot be reduced to a linear past-present-future model of time. When approached as a continuous event, the apocalypse in different literary narratives yields new results (folding the past and the future, and the deterritorialisation of the pre-catastrophic world) when examining the temporal, spatial, and visionary aspects of these narratives. This in turn reveals more about the internal logic and the rhetorical power of apocalyptic narratives and how they can wield such an influence even in contemporary society.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationTampere
ISBN (Electronic)978-952-03-2232-8
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Publication typeG4 Doctoral dissertation (monograph)

Publication series

NameTampere University Dissertations - Tampereen yliopiston väitöskirjat
ISSN (Print)2489-9860
ISSN (Electronic)2490-0028


  • European Union
  • Treaty on European Union
  • Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union
  • company law
  • Corporate social responsibility (CSR)
  • corporate legal personhood


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