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Millennial Literatures of the Americas, 1492-2002$
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Thomas O. Beebee

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195339383

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195339383.001.0001

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Eschatechnologies of the Americas

Eschatechnologies of the Americas

(p.3) Introduction Eschatechnologies of the Americas
Millennial Literatures of the Americas, 1492-2002

Thomas O Beebee (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The term “eschatechnology” condenses “technology” with the Greek to eschaton, an adjectival noun meaning “the last,” or “ultimate,” meaning here the last stages of a particular race, culture, or social system, where the existing conditions are swept away by miraculous intervention and a new community of freedom, justice, and dignity is established in their place. A common term for this new creation is “millennium,” from a passage in Revelation 20 that describes the binding of Satan and a reign of Christ for one thousand years. This introductory chapter defines millennial thinking as a particular strategy for revitalization movements worldwide, traces the background of the millennial literatures brought by Europeans to the Americas as technologies of conquest and control, and notes the role “hard” technology has played in visions of the end of the world at least since the wheel of Ezekiel. Since the end of the world has always been a fiction, literature plays a key role in its promulgation. Some of the key texts to be analyzed in the study are ranged on a continuum, from those that seek to induce belief, such as Revelation, to those that use millennial themes to encourage skepticism and reflective dissonance, such as Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale.

Keywords:   Book of Revelation, Book of Daniel, Book of Ezekiel, Eschatology, technology, technological millennialism, fiction, literature, revitalization movements

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