Zombie Fiction--English 2025
The zombie is a relatively new addition to the pantheon of monsters, making its first appearance as a fictional monster in Victor Halpern’s 1932 film White Zombie, itself loosely inspired by William Seabrook’s popular Haitian travelogue The Magic Island, published in 1929. Seabrook spent a great deal of time in Haiti and collected stories of Voodoo and the creation of zombies, and actually claimed to have witnessed the resurrection of a dead man via these means. Soon after the publication of Seabrook’s book, the figure of the zombie captured western consciousness, appearing in popular films and pulp fiction. Perhaps one reason for the zombie’s popularity is its malleability as a symbol for our deepest fears. The creature rapidly went from representing white xenophobic fears of the dangerous propinquities of former slaves to a metaphor for fears about communism, capitalism and the boundaries of medical science.
This course will explore the creation the zombie as literary character and its rapid transformation into numerous signifiers. In particular we will examine much of George A. Romero’s influential Night of the Living Dead series and how it changed how we view the creature: all subsequent zombie texts pay homage to Romero’s Night of the Living Dead series, if only to refute the rules of living death it established.
Since the zombie is primarily a cinematic character, we will view a film during each class meeting. We will also examine zombie pulp stories from the thirties and forties, as well some more contemporary novels, comics and graphic novels. Comics are particularly important to the creation of the zombie character as well, as this creature, along with vampires and werewolves, was a staple of the much maligned horror comics that flourished throughout the 1930’s to 1950s before congressional hearings fueled by Frederic Werthem’s 1953 book Seduction of the Innocent lead to the creation of the Comics Code Authority, an industry group that voluntarily squelched the publication of horror comics for the next 20 years. We will also discuss this figure’s relationship to other creatures in the generally recognized pantheon of monsters such as vampires and mummies.
Syllabus and Class PoliciesClass Policies If You Added This Class Late
Major Assignments-- All essays, forum postings and exams count as major assignments. Students who receive a 0 on any major assignment cannot pass this class, regardless of their average. Anyone caught plagiarizing on a major assignment will receive an automatic 0 for that submission and will not be permitted to substitute another assignment in its place. Therefore, anyone caught plagiarizing will automatically fail this course.
Forum Postings 30%
Class Discussion 20%
Midterm Exam 25%
Final Exam 25%
Help With Your Writing
Further advice for writing a literary analysis essay from the University of North Carolina's Writing Center.
The University of North Carolina's Writing Center has some advice for writing essay exams.
Purdue University Grammar Handouts--very helpful for those of you who might need an explanation about why you have made a particular errorThe University of Ottowa has a particularly useful guide to punctuation. Those of you who have difficulty knowing when and when not to use a comma should find this site particularly informative.
Using Evidence and Citing Your Sources
Writing Arguments (or Persuasive Essays)
Considering Your Audience
Making Smooth Transitions