• Cult-B: The Zombie Apocalypse

    (James McFarland, Vanderbilt University)

    Weeks 1 & 2; 11 am (NY time)

    The dead are coming back to life and eating the living! The “zombie apocalypse” is a scenario that has been depicted in countless movies, television shows, video games, even novels. This course asks the question: What does the popularity of this version of apocalypse tell us about the historical moment in which we live? I’ll talk about three large aspects of this imaginary idea, using three different films as illustrations. George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead (1978) will help us explore the idea of apocalypse in general. Pontypool by Bruce McCabe (2008) guides our look at biological contagion. And finally, Jim Jarmusch’s 2019 The Dead Don’t Die illuminates the nihilistic implications of this contemporary phenomenon. If, as I suspect, the zombie apocalypse testifies to what Jürgen Habermas has called “the exhaustion of utopian energies” in the present day, how can we learn to heed the warnings implicit in the image?