The History of the End of the World

Conor Walton

We're back at the Strand for The End of the World!

Come join Jamie Warren and Lawrence Cappello for an Olio about the end of the world. We will examine the social and political forces that have historically produced such apocalyptic fantasies and the radical prescriptions for building a perfect society.


The 19th Century - Radical Utopias

Taught by Jamie Warren

It’s the end of the world. Capitalism has triumphed over the social fabric, ripping us apart and isolating us from each other. Technological innovation has usurped moral development, leaving labor behind in a state of anxiety. The status of women, our typical benchmark of social stability, is uncertain and troubling. As the gap between the rich and the poor grows, so too grows the divide between the genders. And racial oppression and the violence of white supremacy have never been greater. It’s the end of the world. Except, it’s the 1830s. The Civil War has not yet happened. The atomic bomb and Donald Trump are nightmares more than a century in the waiting.

In the early-mid nineteenth century, something profound happened across the American landscape. Men and women, convinced that the end of the world was close at hand, left their families, their property, and their way of life behind, and joined one of the many diverse, radical utopias that emerged in droves. Between 1830 and 1860, hundreds of utopian communities appeared, each with a unique vision of a perfect society. Some banned sex outright, others demanded the abolishment of monogamy in favor of free love. All challenged the notion of private property in one way or another, striking at the heart of capitalism. And importantly, regardless of their differences, and in spite of their doomsday beliefs, each utopian society reflected an overwhelming optimism about our power to shape our world. The end may be near, they believed, but we will not stand idly by and watch. Instead, we will outstep the apocalypse, by abandoning this world before it abandons us.


The 20th Century - Atomic Fever

Taught by Lawrence Cappello

The Bomb! For most of the twentieth century, when Americans pictured the end of the world odds are they were imagining nuclear holocaust. The threat of imminent nuclear attack throughout the Cold War had a tremendous impact on our culture. Sometimes horrifying, and, looking back at it, oftentimes comical. This brief Olio will touch on the atomic fever of the 1950s and 1960s. Topics will including bomb shelters, duck-and-cover, ICBMs, and the Cuban Missile Crisis.




Location: Strand Bookstore

828 Broadway, New York, NY 10003

The Rare Book Room at Strand Bookstore boasts an elegant venue for our Friday night residency.




Interdisciplinary Learning with the Best Professors


Think Olio is not about learning a new skill or adding credentials to your resume. It is about getting together with other people and expanding our worldview. It exists as a conduit for fruitful discussions, a dissent from the regurgitation of facts, and an embrace of new perspectives.


Learn about joining the Scenius for $10 / month



Other upcoming Olios


Dec 28

New Year’s House Party | Remembering 1919 – A Hellish Year

Taught by Lawrence Cappello
7:30 p.m. at Living Room

Sign Up - $15

Dec 29

Scenius Summit 2019: No Professor New Year's Weekend

Taught by
noon at OlioHouse | Wassaic, NY

Sign Up - $100

Jan 4

Museum Visit | Strange Beauty in the Italian Renaissance

Taught by Ted Barrow
7 p.m. at The Morgan Library & Museum

Sign Up - $15

Jan 11

Somebody to Love: A Feminist Reading of Freddie Mercury

Taught by Jamie Warren
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20

Jan 22

Living Room Salon | Our Struggle with Free Will

Taught by Jeanne Proust
7:30 p.m. at Living Room

Sign Up - $15

Jan 24

Living Room Salon | Tough Poetry in Dark Times

Taught by Geoff Klock
7:30 p.m. at Living Room

Sign Up - $15

Feb 2

OlioHouse | Our Stories, Our Bodies: Rape Culture in American History

Taught by Jamie Warren
noon at OlioHouse | Wassaic, NY

Sign Up - $150

Feb 9

OlioHouse | The Love Symposium

Taught by Skye Cleary
noon at OlioHouse | Wassaic, NY

Sign Up - $150

Feb 15

Philosophy and Friendship

Taught by Jeanne Proust
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20


Find out when we launch new classes!