Fachbereich 7

Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaft

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Zombie Stories. Manifestations of Cultural Anxiety from Benito Cereno to The Last of Us.

DozentIn: M.Ed. Fenja Heisig, B.A.

Veranstaltungstyp: Seminar

Ort: 22/215: Do. 12:00 - 14:00 (13x), 02/E05: Do. 12:00 - 14:00 (1x)

Zeiten: Do. 12:00 - 14:00 (wöchentlich), Ort: 22/215, 02/E05

Beschreibung: The undead, the living dead, walkers, the risen, the infected…there are many names for the phenomenon we aim to examine in this seminar. All of them and more can be captured under the umbrella term “zombie” but their origins and manifestations vary with time and region. While the origins of the zombie can be traced back to Haitian folklore, many cultures have their own variant of the zombie, of the rising dead. Other cultures have adopted the Haitian mythical figure of the zombie, adapting it to their own cultural context.
As undead revenants, zombies trigger deep primal fears within us because they turn our fellow humans into monsters. Zombies hold the mirror to civilization and constantly question the boundaries between the living and the dead. As a stylistic element, zombies manifest our most acute cultural anxieties. The appearance of the zombie announces the end of society as we know it and it is thus not surprising that we speak of the zombie apocalypse. As society collapses, zombies challenge our own humanity and pose the unsettling question: Who really are the walking dead?
In this seminar, we explore the origins of the zombie as a mythical figure. We then trace the evolution of the zombie from Haitian folklore until today through different cultural formats, including short stories, a novel, movies, TV shows, and computer games. Our goal is to examine what the zombie stands for. Together we analyze the zombie as an indication of different cultural anxieties, as a symbol of our deepest fears, and we ask ourselves: Why are we so fascinated by the living dead?
Students in this seminar are required to actively engage with primary and secondary texts in preparation for class. There will be weekly assigned reading (or watching!) and active participation in class room discussions is expected. Each student has to present on a zombie narrative of their own choice (Studiennachweis); all students who require a grade (studienbegleitende Prüfung) have to write a term paper or take an oral exam. Please consult the Modulbeschreibung for your specific requirements!
All primary and secondary literature will be announced in class. Please check the course webpages on Stud.IP regularly for updates, announcements, and changes.

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