Individual Presentation or Panel Title

Z-OOO-mbies: A Posthumanist Look at Our Fascination with the Undead

Abstract

In this session participants will learn to embrace their inner zombies. In a culture of standardized education, our youth have fostered a fascination with zombies that excites their creativity and channels concerns about their futures. We don’t allow them to be creative in a normed education, but outside of the classroom their imaginations soar and they have embraced a post-apocolyptic race of zombies that addresses their fears of the world. We are fascinated along with the youth; we are terrified, yet drawn to these zombies, adding human-like qualities to some, and reigning violence on others out of our fear that they are not human enough and too close to the animals that we fear we will become. Our obsession with the undead finds its way into the classroom as students discuss their favorite zombie series (The Walking Dead, 2010), and the Shakespeare knock-off film (Warm Bodies, 2013) where a zombie Romeo is “healed” back to his human form over the love of a less-dead Juliet, and even participate in zombie “hoards.” Why is our culture so fascinated with zombies? We might consider them as z-OOO-mbies, as creatures that represent Object Oriented Ontology (OOO), the idea that originated with Graham Harman that all things nonhuman (not just objects) should be considered ontologically. Zombies represent our fear that our superiority is waning, a desperate attempt to see ourselves surviving even after cataclysmic events that destroy all other life and the objects that we as humans have created.

Presentation Description

This session examines the phenomenon of zombie pop culture through a posthumanist lens. We will discuss examples of current films such as Warm Bodies (2014) and I Am Legend (2007), as well as explore youth participation in zombie “hoards” in the South. There may even be a zombie in attendance at this session!

Keywords

zombie, posthuman, critical media literacy, pop culture, education, culture studies

Location

Magnolia Room B

Publication Type and Release Option

Presentation (Open Access)

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Jun 11th, 2:00 PM Jun 11th, 3:15 PM

Z-OOO-mbies: A Posthumanist Look at Our Fascination with the Undead

Magnolia Room B

In this session participants will learn to embrace their inner zombies. In a culture of standardized education, our youth have fostered a fascination with zombies that excites their creativity and channels concerns about their futures. We don’t allow them to be creative in a normed education, but outside of the classroom their imaginations soar and they have embraced a post-apocolyptic race of zombies that addresses their fears of the world. We are fascinated along with the youth; we are terrified, yet drawn to these zombies, adding human-like qualities to some, and reigning violence on others out of our fear that they are not human enough and too close to the animals that we fear we will become. Our obsession with the undead finds its way into the classroom as students discuss their favorite zombie series (The Walking Dead, 2010), and the Shakespeare knock-off film (Warm Bodies, 2013) where a zombie Romeo is “healed” back to his human form over the love of a less-dead Juliet, and even participate in zombie “hoards.” Why is our culture so fascinated with zombies? We might consider them as z-OOO-mbies, as creatures that represent Object Oriented Ontology (OOO), the idea that originated with Graham Harman that all things nonhuman (not just objects) should be considered ontologically. Zombies represent our fear that our superiority is waning, a desperate attempt to see ourselves surviving even after cataclysmic events that destroy all other life and the objects that we as humans have created.