The head of the English Dept at Southern Utah Univ., Kyle Bishop
Now, do we yet realize the cultural, and historical as well as the leadership reasons why Putin just plans a bit and then does as he thinks?
Zombie Studies Gain Ground on College Campuses
Students, Professors Study Culture of Living Dead
CULTURE OF THE LIVING DEAD? Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?
Kyle Bishop figured it was risky when he applied to a University of Arizona Ph.D. program in English eight years ago by proposing a dissertation on zombie movies.He was dead wrong.
The program approved Mr. Bishop’s proposal, and he is now chairman of Southern Utah University’s English department. The 40-year-old has been invited to give zombie lectures in Hawaii, Canada and Spain.
"It’s clearly now acceptable to study zombies seriously," he says.
Just as zombies—those mythical revived corpses hungry for living human flesh and gray matter—have infiltrated pop culture, they have also gotten their hands on our brainiest reserves: the academy.
Mr. Bishop is among an advancing horde of scholars who, compelled by the cultural history and metaphor of the undead, are teaching and conducting research in disciplines from economics to religion to medicine.
I’m sorry, and maybe it’s just me, but it seems to my little brain that vibrant growing societies graduate students in chemical engineering, medicine, electrical engineering, civil engineering, even ART HISTORY, but studying zombie culture and it reason for being?
The last five years have seen 20 new scholarly books with “zombie” in the title or topic category, according to Baker & Taylor, a distributor of academic and other books; in the 10 prior years, there were 10. JSTOR, an online archive of about 2,000 academic journals, says the journals have run 39 articles invoking the undead since 2005, versus seven in the preceding 10 years.Mr. Bishop’s timing was impeccable. His dissertation coincided with a zombie onslaught that infected television, literature and other media. AMC’s TV series “The Walking Dead” is a top-rated cable show, and the 2013 zombie movie “World War Z” grossed $540 million globally.
Mr. Bishop turned his dissertation into a book, “American Zombie Gothic: The Rise and Fall (and Rise) of the Walking Dead in Popular Culture,” which surprised everyone when over 1,000 copies sold. Back when he proposed his dissertation, he says, “nobody would touch the zombie.”
Now, zombies thrive on campuses like California State University, East Bay, in Hayward. Christopher Moreman, a philosophy professor there, co-edited a two-volume collection of essays on “the Humanity of the Walking Dead” and “Cross-Cultural Appropriations” of the monsters. The initial plan was for one volume, he says, but over 100 proposals arrived.
When Mr. Moreman worked the theme into a course—”Philosophy 3432: Religion, Monsters and Horror”—he says he drew 55 students vying for 35 spots.
In one class, students read his work examining Buddhist imagery in zombie movies, which echo the religion’s meditation on mortality, he says, because “you recognize that everything’s temporary and zombies keep going on and on.”
Some find the trend ominous. There is a “danger” when scholars probe subjects like zombies, says Mark Bauerlein, an English professor and author of “The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future.” “They end up invariably turning their attention away from the tradition,” he says, “the classics, the works that have survived the test of time.”
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