Date Thesis Awarded
Honors Thesis -- Open Access
Bachelors of Arts (BA)
Art and Art History
Alan C. Braddock
Apocalyptic themes make up a growing trend in contemporary Western environmental art, especially art concerned with climate change. From art that revives the apocalyptic sublime of the nineteenth century Romantic and Hudson River School movements to photojournalism of current end-of-days disasters, apocalyptic motifs and subject matter have become significant in visual responses to and depictions of present environmental crises. This thesis examines the apocalyptic mode in contemporary environmental art, arguing that the apocalyptic mode ultimately creates more problems instead of spurring solutions to environmental injustices. Through engagement with existing scholarship on the history and efficacy of apocalypticism and catastrophism, as well as discussions of ecocritical and environmental-justice-focused writings and in-depth analyses of a number of contemporary apocalyptic artists, this research demonstrates that the apocalyptic mode ultimately promotes despair, apathy, and even misanthropic Deep Ecological sentiments by portraying the end of the world as a fait accompli. In discussing environmental art through this critical view of the apocalypse, I aim to suggest a more nuanced path forward in which alternative imaginations urge us towards action instead of foreclosing the future entirely.
Erisman, Victoria, "The Apocalyptic Mode in Contemporary Environmental Art" (2022). Undergraduate Honors Theses. William & Mary. Paper 1802.
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