Daniel Shank Cruz, "Ethics for Apocalyptic Times: Theapoetics, Autotheory, and Mennonite Literature" (Penn State UP, 2023)


Ethics for Apocalyptic Times: Theapoetics, Autotheory, and Mennonite Literature (Penn State UP, 2023) is about the role literature can play in helping readers cope with our present-day crises, including the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and the shift toward fascism in global politics. Using the lens of Mennonite literature and their own personal experience as a culturally Mennonite, queer, Latinx person, Daniel Shank Cruz investigates the age-old question of what literature’s role in society should be, and argues that when we read literature theapoetically, we can glean a relational ethic that teaches us how to act in our difficult times.

In this book, Cruz theorizes theapoetics―a feminist reading strategy that reveals the Divine via literature based on lived experiences―and extends the concept to show how it is queer, decolonial, and equally applicable to secular and religious discourse. Cruz’s analysis focuses on Mennonite literature―including Sofia Samatar’s short story collection Tender and Miriam Toew’s novel Women Talking―but also examines a non-Mennonite text, Samuel R. Delany’s novel The Mad Man, alongside practices of haiku and tarot, to show how reading theapoetically is transferable to other literary traditions.

Weaving together close reading and personal narrative, this pathbreaking book makes a significant and original contribution to the field of Mennonite literary studies. Cruz’s arguments will also be appreciated by literary scholars interested in queer theory and the role of literature in society.

Daniel Shank Cruz (they/multitudes) is a queer, disabled boricua who grew up in New York City and Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Multitudes is the author of Queering Mennonite Literature: Archives, Activism, and the Search for Community, also published by Penn State University Press.

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