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?