Apocalypse Trope in Jon Stewart’s “Earth” (Example Topic Brainstorming Post)

This is an example post with comments for the topic brainstorming activity. You should use this as a model for your own posts and comments. However, do not add any comments–this is NOT a student’s actual paper topic. Also, please note that this topic would not be approved for this course (remember, you must write about at least one 19th century text). Again, this is just a model.


For my final paper, I plan to write about how the apocalypse trope functions in Jon Stewart’s Earth (The Book). I chose this topic because I am a fan of The Daily Show and also because I am interested in how environmentalism is portrayed in pop culture. Stewart’s book is a significant example because of the popularity of his show, especially among younger viewers, which has garnered some controversy. For example, many people discuss whether this show has become the primary/only source of news for its viewers and whether this is a good or bad thing. If this is true, then Stewart’s treatment of environmentalism has a significant impact on his viewers and is worth exploring. Also, I think that the mix of comedy/satire with political issues makes this portrayal of environmentalism stand out among other pop culture representations.

Stewart’s book is set up as an explanation of earth upon its discovery by aliens after human extinction. What I already know about apocalypse is based on the Garrard reading, which discusses the positive and negative aspects of environmentalist’s adoption of apocalyptic rhetoric. I want to apply this idea to assess whether Stewart’s use of apocalyptic language in the book ends up being positive or negative for environmentalism, and how (or to what extent) the use of humor changes the effect of the use of apocalyptic language. I also think that Fredric Jameson’s ideas will be useful, because Stewart’s imagined readers are aliens, but his intended readers are humans (more specifically, his viewers), so it seems that Stewart tries to make the earth strange to its readers in order to make certain political points.

Here are some questions I’ve come up with so far:

  1. Does the effect of apocalyptic language change when it is mixed with comedy/satire?
  2. How do the environmental aspects of this book compare with Stewart’s coverage of environmental issues on The Daily Show?
  3. Does Stewart accurately represent environmental issues?
  4. What impact does Stewart’s book seek to have on the political consciousness of its readers, and is this a successful strategy? Why or why not?
  5. Have environmentalists tried to use humor to appeal to audiences in the past? If so, has it worked? Why or why not?

One response to this post.

  1. I think question 3 is the most interesting. It has the potential to complicate Garrard’s argument rather than just applying repeating it. Here’s another question to consider:

    6. Is Stewart really the primary source of news for his viewers, and why does this matter?

    I added this question because you brought this up in your post, but seemed unsure about it, so this may be worth looking into if this issue becomes important to your paper.

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