New Approaches in Zombie Studies

(Panel)


Cultural Studies and Media Studies / Interdisciplinary Humanities

Derek McGrath (SUNY University at Buffalo)

Pittsburgh this year hosts not only NeMLA but multiple zombie-related activities: Zombie Fest, the amusement park Daring Escapes, the House of the Dead novelty store, and the Guinness World Record for largest zombie walk. As the modern concept of zombies in popular culture was inspired in part by Night of the Living Dead, filmed in Pittsburgh by local director George Romero, this topic can be thematically related to NeMLA’s presence in the city while also addressing multiple themes from a variety of theoretical approaches.


While the zombie genre risks growing torpid (so to speak), it also has cemented itself as an area of study with easily discernible approaches and themes: zombies as representative of biological contagions, as commentary on mental lethargy in the social media age, as symbolic of neoliberal economics, and more. This panel will explore the following questions: How have zombies changed in recent years, in their composition, narrative format, and metaphorical status? What new insights can be garnered looking to earlier conceptions of the zombie, and conceptions from Haiti and around the world? How have zombies served as commentary on medicine, social media, anti-intellectualism, economics, and society?



This session looks at zombies, including as they were defined by Night of the Living Dead, filmed in NeMLA’s host city Pittsburgh by local director George Romero. How have zombies changed in recent years, in their composition, narrative format, and metaphorical status? What new insights can be garnered looking to earlier conceptions of the zombie, and conceptions from Haiti and around the world? How have zombies served as commentary on medicine, social media, anti-intellectualism, economics, and society?