Reading Post-Apocalyptic Fiction in the Time of Corona

Last updated 19 January 2021, 2:26

Arip Pirmansyah
Email: arip.pirmansyah at
Phone: +622180902615
Virtual office: RuangPakArip (by appointment)
Class meetings: T 14:10–15:10, W 09:40–10:40, F 09:40–10:40 and 13:00–14:00


Unit description

A deadly virus rages around the world, emptying workplaces, restaurants and movie theaters. After weeks and months in isolation, civilization begins to emerge. Many of those venturing outdoors continue to wear masks, hoping to slow the spread of the pandemic.
Jason Maderer, describing the growing fear that is propagating throughout our societies at the end of 2020.

This unit examines literary representations of life after catastrophic failures. Some of the catastrophes we will discuss include pandemic infection (Station Eleven), nuclear holocaust (The Postman), climate and ecosystem changes (Clade), zombie apocalypse (World War Z), astronomical disaster (The Last Policeman), and fascist government (The Memory Police). Some of the recurring themes we will examine include:

In this unit, you will work on making connections between texts by focusing on fields of inquiry and possible global issues arising from them. It is important for you to realize that there isn’t just one possible global issue to focus on in a text or work but that different parts of texts can focus on different issues or even on more than one at the same time. The perspective is as important for interpretation as the representation of the global issue.

In your portfolio you will keep track of the global issues and the text excerpts you analyzed. You will also keep a record of possible extracts you could choose for your IA (the Individual Oral).



You will choose one of from the above six novels to read, and depending on the book you’ve picked, you will be put in a reading group/literature circle. These slides contain more information about the books, including the synopses, reviews, ratings, and sample chapters.

In addition to the novels, you will also read and analyze selection of feature articles, opinion columns, letters to the editor, cartoons, documentaries, films, and TV shows covering the different global issues addressed in the novels.

DP assessments for this unit


While not everything will be graded, you will use your work to show your mastery of the contents and skills covered in this class. All activities in the unit will be conducted on Sekolahmu. Grades are points-based and are weighted. There are 3 categories that you will be assessed on throughout the unit:

Summative assessments
This is the (mock) IO.
Formative assessments
This includes Paper 1 analysis, IO outline, and creative projects related to the novel you read.
This includes quizzes, reading notes, portfolio, participation in your reading group, and other assignments.


Your responsibilities

I expect that you will make the necessary effort to be prepared for class, that you will engage deeply and substantially with the course material, that you will turn in your work on time, and that you will treat everyone else in class with respect. I want everyone to benefit from and to succeed, and would be happy to hear input from you about how I can help you to do so. If you have questions or concerns, please let me know in my (virtual) office hours, after class, or by email.

My responsibilities

You have the right to expect that as your teacher, I am knowledgeable about the subject, that I will be prepared for class, that I will return your assignments to you reasonably promptly, that I will indicate clearly where you need to apply yourself in order to improve as both a reader of literature and as a writer, and that I will give you positive feedback whenever possible. It also means that you can count on my honest evaluation of your work. If I say something positive, believe it. If you perform poorly, I will certainly let you know.

I will try very hard to be available to, supportive of, and understanding toward my students. If you are having difficulties with the course material, please come talk to me. If you have unusual, stressful, or bizarre things happen during the term that make it difficult for you to perform up to your potential in the course, please come talk to me. If you just can't seem to get started writing or otherwise working on your final project, please come talk to me. If I can help you to be successful in any reasonable way, please let me know. My job is primarily to support you on your way to academic, intellectual, and artistic success. I am grateful for input about how I can do so.

Schedule (including class notes and GMeet recordings)

Week 1 (11 – 15 January)
Introduction and housekeeping
Conventions of post-apocalyptic genre
The syllabus in Google Slides format
Post-apocalyptic Warmup Padlet
GMeet recording (Class 11.2 Friday, 15 January 2021)
GMeet recording (Class 11.1 Friday, 15 January 2021)
Week 2 (18 – 22 January)
Global issues
Protocols for the reading group
GMeet recording (Class 11.2 Tuesday, 19 January 2021)
GMeet recording (Class 11.1 Wednesday, 20 January 2021)
Week 3 (25 – 29 January) to Week 5 (8 – 12 February)
Close reading of the novels
Reading group meetings
Elements of fiction
Non-literary texts study
Week 6 (15 – 19 February)
IO procedures
Pairing texts for the IO
Week 7 (22 – 26 February)
IO proposal, outline, and extracts
Week 8 (1 – 5 March)
The IO (summative)

Links to Sekolahmu activities

Week 1 (11 – 15 January)
Reading Apocalyptic Fiction in the Time of Corona: Warm-Up Activities (HL)
Reading Apocalyptic Fiction in the Time of Corona: Warm-Up Activities (SL)
Week 2 (18 – 22 January)


Notes on the Individual Oral (IO)

Introducing the IO (PowerPoint slides)
A comprehensive introduction from InThinking, covering the frequently asked questions on the IO.
How to Prepare for your Individual Oral (PDF)
From InThinking, six stages with various steps for students to do in order to succeed on their IO.
Marking criteria (PDF)

Definition and characteristics of post-apocalyptic genre

Apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction (Wikipedia)
A useful starting point to learn about this genre.
Does Post-Apocalyptic Literature Have A (Non-Dystopian) Future? (article)
Describes the connection between post-apocalyptic and dystopian literature.
Post Apocalyptic Fiction (YouTube)
Prominent sci-fi authors talk about the value of post-apocalyptic fiction.
Apocalyptic SF (lecture video)
Part of an introductory course in science fiction.
Trope Talk: Post Apocalypses (YouTube)
Describes some of the most common tropes and subgenres of apocalyptic literature.
After the End (article)
Huge list of all known tropes and examples of the genre.

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