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The Carletonian

Religion department hosts “Apocalypse Party” to display student creations

Isaac Kofsky

“This book narrates the end of the world, when the wicked will be punished and the just vindicated.” This is what was said of the Book of Revelation, of which students in Religion 322: “Apocalypse How?” made a handmade copy that was shown at the Apocalypse Party. 

On Tuesday, October 24, the religion department hosted an event to display the illuminated handmade manuscripts of the Book of Revelation made in professor Sonja Anderson’s “Apocalypse How?” seminar. Dubbed the “Apocalypse Party,” students, faculty, and staff gathered in Leighton 426 to view the manuscripts and enjoy a meal of fried chicken, potatoes and coleslaw. 

Each student in Anderson’s class was tasked with handcrafting a manuscript of one or two chapters of the Book of Revelation and incorporating a local element into their decorations. Their final pieces are meant to mirror illuminated manuscripts of religious texts made by medieval monks. The students wrote their assigned texts using calligraphy tools and decorated their chapters with gold leaf and paint using  their interpretation of the text to guide their art.

The process of creating the manuscripts was long and labor-intensive. Just as in medieval times, everything had to be handmade, and each student created their own intricate designs using materials that many of them had never used before. Informational cards were placed around the room as guides to the display, noting which student illustrated each chapter. Because the religion department hosted the event, the religion classes that will be offered next term were also advertised. 

“It was really nice to just be able to let go of everything else and work on my art for hours at a time,” said Abigail Goff ’25, who recreated chapters 1 and 2 of the Book of Revelation.

The students’ creative interpretations of their assigned sections made for a unique viewing experience that made viewers think about how they viewed the text. In addition to the biblical text written in English, some students chose to include certain words in Greek and Hebrew. Some drew inspiration from Carleton’s campus, while others used the stock market or St. Olaf athletics to represent different parts of their selected chapters. 

“Almost all of my time was spent on the art,” said Griffin Momsen-Hudson ’25, who copied and illustrated chapter 7. “I only spent a few hours on the words and the rest was spent on the art.”

While traditionally illuminated manuscripts were written on parchment made of animal skin, Anderson’s students used large pieces of paper to make their creations because of the high cost of animal parchment. Despite this, Anderson tried to make the experience of creating a manuscript have some authentic elements, and students viewed authentic manuscripts in the special collections section of Carleton’s Library as a part of the class. 

Anderson explained that her class examines narratives of the Apocalypse and what that has meant throughout history. Starting with the books of Revelation and Ezekiel as a prototype, students examine how the narrative of the apocalypse has changed, and what that has meant for the people who believe in it. Students split their time between reading and discussing in class and working on their manuscripts. 

Despite the rainy weather, the party was very well attended. Many students came to support friends who were in the class, or simply came to enjoy the pieces and lunch. Professors from across departments came as well, and other guests included President Alison Byerly and Chaplain Schuyler Vogel ’07. The party was held during common time so all Carleton students would be able to attend. 

Now that their manuscripts are done, the students of “Apocalypse How?” will engage  in research papers that dive deeper into the apocalypse narratives that they have been learning. After the party, Anderson collected the manuscript sheets to scan them, so her students’ creations are preserved permanently.

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About the Contributor
Isaac Kofsky
Isaac Kofsky, Viewpoint Editor
Hi there! I’m Isaac (he/him) and I’m a first-year prospective religion or geology major. I’ve been described as “the chapel’s press liaison” and I love eating dinner at 4:45pm, reading non-fiction, wearing sweaters, and drinking two cups of black coffee at every meal. When I’m not in Carletonian pitch meetings or in religion class, you can normally find me doing homework in the chapel or drinking tea in the religion lounge.   Isaac Kofsky '27 was previously a Beat Writer.  

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