Swords into Ploughshares:
Mass Enthusiasm, Peace Movements and Transformational Millennialism

October 28 - 31, 2000

Boston University, Boston, MA


Our fifth call for papers in millennial studies focuses on the forms of millennial thinking that attributes important elements in the creation of the messianic or utopian age to human effort, whether divinely, ideologically, or messianically inspired. Although some of these forms can become violent and totalitarian, the focus on this year's conference is on the socially creative and constructive forms of these activist millennial drives, those aiming for a collective leap for humanity to a "new" or "just" social paradigm.

The relationship of such millennialism to the creation, sustaining, and transforming of civil society is a particularly welcome topic, enabling us to explore the hypothesis that civil society is, on a number of important occasions, the product of a "successful" millennial movement. This does not mean that the violent and coercive dimensions of millennialism are not relevant, since no millennial manifestations have avoided such elements entirely, and contributions to the interaction between these strands of millennialism are welcome. The focus, however is on those millennial manifestations that contribute to the starting of public transformational waves, to the kinds of movements to which they give rise to the NRMs and voluntary associations they create, and , finally to the various landings that such movements have upon returning to the world of normal time, stable human relations, and realistic expectations about long-term human behavior.


Abstracts due June 1, 2000

Send 1 page abstracts with 1 page CV and summer and fall contact information to:

Beth Forrest
Center for Millennial Studies 
Boston University 
704 Commonwealth Ave., Suite 205 
Boston, MA 02215 

or via fax: 617.358.0225
or via e-mail

Contributions welcome from all disciplines within and from outside the academy. 
Contributions can range historically and geographically from the ancient past to the global present.

ALL presenters are required to register, pay registration cost, and are responsible for travel and lodging costs.

Travel grants are available for those who would otherwise be unable to attend.

When submitting your abstract, please inform us if you will only be able to attend if you receive a travel stipend.

Possible Topics Include:

Popular Peace Movements -- Peace of God, Great Allelulia, Flagellants, Bianci, Great Awakening, Taiping Revolution

New Religious Movements (NRMs) and Revitalization Movements -- Quakers, Anabaptists, Sufis, Bahais, Ghost Dancers, Taiping

Forms of Transformational Spirituality -- amnesty, emancipation, jubilee, atonement, singing and dancing, bahkti waves, covenantal, voluntary associations

Pacifist Ideologies -- apocalyptic genealogies, theories of justice and the toleration of the "other"

Social Mysticism -- Micah/Isaiah, Francis of Assisi, Tomasso Campanella, William Blake

Public Millennial Manifestations -- great awakenings, public collective experiences, pilgrim waves, mass penitential reconciliations, mass conversions

Social and Psychological Manifestations -- "great awakenings," conversion phenomena, communalism, social and educations reforms, narcissims, megalomania, anxieties of vulnerability and temptations of paranoia

Cultural Manifestations -- humor and subversive laughter, millennial poetry and song, street theatre, polical iconoclasm and messianic icons, public discourse, public media and the technology of communication, antinomian and ascetic sexuality

Thetoric and Exegisis -- forms of semiotic arousal the the "proofs" offered, readings of prophetic texts, relationships between urgency and patience, owl/rooster encounters, role of emotion and passion, spontaneity, tolerance

The Media -- media as creation of, contributo to, and interaction with transformational millennialism, media's role in civil society, in both conspiracist and anti-conspiracist narratives, media and Y2K.

60s as a Millennial Movement, 1968/9 as a Millennial Moment -- various aspects of the dynamic of the last transformational millennial wave to sweep around the globe.

Problems, Weaknesses -- antinomianism, instability, disappointment, anarchy, paranoia

Post-apocalyptic Landings -- covenantal socieities, experiements in sovereignty, holy wars for territory, for dominion, new religious movements, political reforms/revolutions, totalitarianism, non-apocalyptic millennialism

Millennial Theory and Methodology -- mimetic theory, punctuated equilibrium and epidemiological theory in cultural evolution, historical reconstruction, cognitive dissonance theory, chaod and models of self-organizing behavior, psychoanalytic theory