The Inaugural Convening of “On the Edge: New Directions in the Interdisciplinary Study of Religion”

Feb. 9-11, 2017

The contours of apocalyptic thinking and movements are well traced. We are unsurprised by the unusual political alliances, militaristic mindsets, and end-of-world expectations to which apocalyptic and millennial thinking give rise. Still, as a mode of thinking and of rhetoric, apocalyptic discourse is nimble and often adapting. Given this, we invite scholars from any discipline to explore with us the edges of apocalyptic thought and practice. Where are the places that apocalyptic patterns, symbols, and rhetorics are unexpected and unexplored, either in the present or in the past? How is apocalyptic discourse as lived or as an academic category being deployed to new ends and in new ways?


“‘Every Time a Horn Goes, Another Replaces It’: Cyclicality and Conquest in Muslim Apocalypticism”

David Cook (Rice University)

David B. Cook is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Rice University. He is author of Studies in Muslim Apocalyptic (2003), Contemporary Muslim Apocalyptic Literature (2005), Understanding Jihad (2005), Martyrdom in Islam (2007), and, with Olivia Allison, Understanding and Addressing Suicide Attacks (2007). He is currently working on two major projects: Mystical Radical Islam (an exploration of the magical and mystical religious transformation current in radical Islamic takfiri movements), and Contemporary Shi`ite apocalyptic literature (from Iran, Iraq and Lebanon).



Thursday, Feb.9

4:00: Welcome, Brian K. Pennington, Center for the Study of Religion, Culture, and Society

4:15-5:15: Session 1: Apocalypse and Temporal Imagining 

Amy Allocco, presider

  • William Sherman (Stanford University), “Apocalypse, Again: Language and Repetition in a Qur’anic Imitation”
  • Arun Chaudhuri (York University), “Hindu Nationalist Futures and the Perpetual Imagination of the End”

5:45-6:45: Keynote Address: David Cook (Rice University), “‘Every Time a Horn Goes, Another Replaces It’: Cyclicality and Conquest in Muslim Apocalypticism” (McKinnon Hall, Moseley Student Center)

7:00: Dinner (McKinnon Hall, Moseley Student Center)


Friday, Feb. 10

9:00-10:00 Session 2: Apocalypse and Social Cohesion

Pamela Winfield, presider

  • Bob Royalty (Wabash College),“The Glorious Appearance Daily at 4:30 pm: Tensions and Contradictions in Contemporary Christian Apocalypticism”
  • Robert Glenn Howard (University of Wisconsin, Madison), “Apocalypse Failed?: Vernacular Authority in a New Age Religious Movement”

10:00-10:45: Coffee, Sponsored by Religious Studies Department

10:45-11:45: Session 3: Apocalypse and Gender in Popular Culture

Ariela Marcus-Sells, presider

  • Megan Goodwin (Syracuse University), “Gendering the End Times: ‘Apocalypse, Apocalypse, We Caused It with Our Dumbness’”
  • Kristian Petersen (University of Nebraska Omaha), “The Shadow of the End: An Islamic Horror Film”

12-1:30: Lunch (Belk Pavilion 208)

1:30-2:30: Undergraduate Research Poster Session (Sacred Space, Numen Lumen Pavilion)

3:00-4:30: Session 4: Apocalypse as Contemporary Ideology

Tom Mould, presider

  • Matthew Sutton (Washington State University), “Billy Graham’s End of Days: The Mainstreaming of Fundamentalist Apocalypticism”
  • Jonathan Herman (Georgia State University), “Meet the New Age, Same As the Old Age: Vanishing Millenarianism in the Western Appropriation of Daoism”

6:00 Reception & Dinner: Home of Brian Pennington and Amy Allocco


Saturday, Feb. 11

9:00-10:00 Session 5: Apocalypse as Queer Unveiling

Evan Gatti, presider

  • Lynn Huber (Elon University), “‘Pulling Down the Sky’: Queer Interpretation of Revelation and the Apocalypse of Keith Haring and William S. Burroughs”
  • Kent Brintnall (University of North Carolina, Charlotte), “The Politics of Revelation: Unveiling Negativity in the Work of Lee Edelman and Georges Bataille”

10:00-10:15: Break

10:15-11:30: Concluding Analysis and Discussion