Title

Fight or Flight: Plague, Zombies and Contemporary Public Discourse

Subject Area

Film and Literary Studies

Abstract

The description of virulent disease pandemics that both kill and subsequently restructure society in its rebuilding of survivors has been a narrative that has existed throughout human existence. From its earliest accounts in descriptions of the plague of Athens by Thucydides to more modern-day telling of tales such as “The Andromeda Strain,” “I am Legend,” “28 Days Later” “World War Z” and even the popular “Walking Dead” graphic novel / television series, the narrative of infectious pandemics and subsequent transformation of Man vs. Zombie has proven to be one that evokes negative emotions such as fear and anxiety throughout Man’s history. Likewise, it also has undeniable public interest and dovetails with public acts that often include the breakdown of society and the destruction of all forms of civil liberties. By drawing from its earliest written forms in comparison with the fears of contagion that permeate our modern culture, a pattern can be seen. This in one that involves government policy, xenophobia, and even the building of walls to maintain strict borders often under the guise of protecting a population from an outbreak of infectious disease.

While beginning with the earliest accounts of disease narratives in Europe, this study explores how the outbreak of disease and the fears of contagions has influenced contemporary public discourse. Although drawing from early examples in Europe – primarily Medieval Spain - this paper will be delivered in English.

Brief Bio Note

Professor of Spanish; B.A., M.A., Ph.D. Michigan State University. Dr. Garza's teaching fields are Spanish and Portuguese language, Business Spanish, Computer Assisted Language Learning and Peninsular Spanish literature. His research specialization is in Medieval Spanish literature and he is a scholar of plague studies and its impact on the Iberian Peninsula. Before coming to UT Martin, he designed and implemented a program in Business Spanish for Michigan State University where he also served as Assistant Editor of Celestinesca- a literary journal devoted to the study of Fernando de Rojas' masterpiece, Celestina. He is active in the world of computer technology having served as technical consultant for various hardware and software-related seminars. Scholarly publication: Understanding Plague: The Medical and Imaginative Texts of Medieval Spain. New York: Peter Lang, 2008.

Keywords

Cultural studies, literature, film, disease, xenophobia, pandemics

Location

Afternoon Session 2 (PARB 227)

Presentation Year

April 2019

Start Date

4-11-2019 4:05 PM

Embargo

12-17-2018

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Apr 11th, 4:05 PM

Fight or Flight: Plague, Zombies and Contemporary Public Discourse

Afternoon Session 2 (PARB 227)

The description of virulent disease pandemics that both kill and subsequently restructure society in its rebuilding of survivors has been a narrative that has existed throughout human existence. From its earliest accounts in descriptions of the plague of Athens by Thucydides to more modern-day telling of tales such as “The Andromeda Strain,” “I am Legend,” “28 Days Later” “World War Z” and even the popular “Walking Dead” graphic novel / television series, the narrative of infectious pandemics and subsequent transformation of Man vs. Zombie has proven to be one that evokes negative emotions such as fear and anxiety throughout Man’s history. Likewise, it also has undeniable public interest and dovetails with public acts that often include the breakdown of society and the destruction of all forms of civil liberties. By drawing from its earliest written forms in comparison with the fears of contagion that permeate our modern culture, a pattern can be seen. This in one that involves government policy, xenophobia, and even the building of walls to maintain strict borders often under the guise of protecting a population from an outbreak of infectious disease.

While beginning with the earliest accounts of disease narratives in Europe, this study explores how the outbreak of disease and the fears of contagions has influenced contemporary public discourse. Although drawing from early examples in Europe – primarily Medieval Spain - this paper will be delivered in English.