After Hours

Zombie-themed college course: Would you sign up for the class?

Studying zombies in college sounds like the setup for a bad joke about exhausted students, but Dr. Arnold T. Blumberg is actually offering an English 333 level course on zombies at the University of Baltimore.

Our society's obsession with zombies keeps growing -- so much so that we're even starting to study the genre in institutions of higher learning.

Dr. Arnold T. Blumberg is offering a zombie course at the University of Baltimore. And this is no freshman course; Media Genres: Zombies is an English 333 course. The course will focus on how and why the zombie genre (movies, books, comics, and everything having to do with zombies) evolved and explore what this evolution says about our culture. The course goes in depth into American and European culture. This is an upper level course because studying the way media and evolving human culture affect each other is precisely what English students study. In reality, it's as essential as studying the Arthurian legend's effects on human culture. The zombie genre just seems like more fun.

Students will watch a selected 16 zombie genre movies dating from 1932 to the present. Looking at popular zombie movies tells us a lot about what we have been through as a society. Zombie movies evolve over time and, in effect, show us our fears decade by decade. When Night of the Living Dead was first produced in 1968, the dead rising from their graves to feast on living people was quite terrifying. Was the flash that caused it an alien craft or an explosion from a power plant? Both possibilities came from the fears and worries of the time. Fast forward to the 2003 film 28 Days Later, in which unethical scientists create a virus that turns humanoids into dying zombies. Remember all the anthrax scares? There was a period when people were terrified of contagious pathogens (oh, wait, we still are), and 28 Days Later marks that for posterity. (Dr. Blumberg is the co-author of the book Zombiemania: 85 Movies to Die For.)

If I went to the University of Baltimore, I would absolutely sign up for Media Genres: Zombies. I wonder if I'd get extra credit because I have participated in a zombie walk.

What about you? Would you spend money and time on a zombie college course? Would it matter if the course was for you or for your child?

About

Nicole Bremer Nash is Director of Content and Social Media for HuTerra, where she uses SEO and social media to promote charitable organizations in their community-building and fundraising efforts. She enjoys volunteering, arts and crafts, and conduct...

16 comments
Murfski-19971052791951115876031193613182
Murfski-19971052791951115876031193613182

The idea I got from the article was that the actual object of the course was more of a diagnostic: the zombie fad is the symptom, and they're trying to find the cause. This is just as valid as studying Andy Warhol's so-called art -- probably more so.

Dr_Zinj
Dr_Zinj

Assuming that this is treated in the same methodology as a course on any of the other genres: Romance, Science Fiction/Fantasy, Detective/Mystery, Action/Adventure, Documentary, etc. I see nothing wrong with it. It's an upper level course, so students already have the basics, which makes this is an application course. And you can see, assuming you read the entire article, that this covers not just movies, but also books, comics, and everything else having to do with zombies. I kind of hope they devote one of the class periods to the Zombie Epidemic Study done by a Canadian university a few years ago. In almost every instance, a zombie plague wins. Since this was modeled on real epidemiology, it doesn't speak well for our ability to control any pandemic.

itadmin
itadmin

The saddest thing is that most likely tax-payer money will be used for this. Not mine, I'm not American, but equally worthless art courses get funded world-wide. And what is art education? An introduction to drugs and sexual deviancy? I'm sure Timothy Leary would have approved of this.

bergenfx
bergenfx

If the emphasis is on the gore aspect and the best zombie costume, it is just a fun excuse for a class. If you pull back the covers and draw parallels to what happened in Nazi Germany and elsewhere or examine the fragility of society and how our social structures can rapidly breakdown (Katrina); then I think such a course would have merit. Ionesco's Rhinoceros is taught in many college literature classes, and that has to do with people spontaneously turning into Rhinos, (again Nazi Germany).

mikifinaz1
mikifinaz1

My German education is twice that of a U.S. education.

robo_dev
robo_dev

You never know what the result of eating genetically-modified foods will be. Oh sure, laugh now, but when the horde of drooling brain-craving Zombies are massing outside your door, you will have wish you paid attention in class.

jck
jck

called "Seminar in Anthropology and Theatre". We were required to study various primitive cultures, and behave like them at the end of study to see the issues that might arise from living in their shoes. It was actually pretty cool. And, it was a senior level course requiring instructor admission. Good thing the professor was my friend, since I was a computer science major. lol

mckinnej
mckinnej

I try to be open-minded and figure the zombie and vampire craze will eventually pass and be replaced by something more down to earth and realistic...like leprechauns. :) On the surface these fads are no more harmful than Disco, which of course some folks saw as a sign of the apocalypse. Hey, it's all in good fun, right? ;) This however takes it beyond any reasonable level. This is a school trying to make money and grab some free publicity. Period. Educational value of this course? Zilch. Worthless credits. In fact if I saw it on someone's transcript I would have serious doubts about their entire education. The school, and I use that term loosely, should be ashamed of themselves. Higher education indeed...even underwater basket weaving beats this.

Dented
Dented

These guys are cool - you can't kil them, short of beheading.

Editor's Picks