Media Construction of Apocalypse Halleys Comet and the End of Mayan Calendar through the Lens of Discourse Analysis


The research paper deals with media representation of apocalyptic predictions. It aims to describe how the apocalypse is represented / constructed in media discourse and what functions can the apocalyptic predictions perform. The theoretical background is highly interdisciplinary: the research was formed and inspired by concepts of Carl Gustav Jung´s analytical psychology and by the historical context of the apocalyptic visions, including contemporary theories of collapse. Moreover, the paper connects classic anthropological conceptualisations of ritual, as well as the psychoanalytical/sociological notion of ontological security, to the media-apocalyptic seriality. The research paper employs discourse analytical approach suggested by James Paul Gee, enhanced by selected Jungian categories, for in-depth comparative analysis of printed and online media texts focused on the return of Halley´s comet in 1910 and the end of Mayan calendar in 2012. The paper suggests that – by various forms of ritualizing the apocalyptic events´ prediction – the media have the potential to symbolically revitalize the society and strengthen ontological security of its members. The objects of prediction (the comet and the calendar in this case) can actually serve as objects of projection of collectively unconscious anxieties, activated by social-political context. However, the research suggests that the media discourse on apocalypse articulates a historically invariable cause of the apocalypse – the self-destructive tendencies of the human race.

Author Information
Johana Kotišová, Masaryk University, Czech Republic

Paper Information
Conference: EuroMedia2014
Stream: Media Disaster Coverage

This paper is part of the EuroMedia2014 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon