Zombies and Pedagogy

Wed. 3 pm
8030 Horror (Fiction, Film) (Iaccino et al): Zombies, Pop Culture and Pedagogy: RC-Salon L

This is a live blogging of the session.

Very interesting session. My mind wandered somewhat, since I went to sleep at 2 and got up at 6, but there was some good stuff.

Matt Saye: “Bodies without Organs” 28 Days Later
rabid cult following
cultural examination
fast zombies, but underlying meaning
community in the film
Jim is prototypical manchild
child-like utopia, no adults and no one to tell them what to eat: soda and candy bars
chances of survival are better when you have more people, community, groups
Capitalism and Schizophrenia book postulates desire is the desire for connections
each survivor looks for connection
rape—soldiers look at the women as sexual objects
top down authority
women are silenced—aren’t asked questions, don’t make comments
Jim is declared dead when he jumps over the wall that separates the living and zombies
girls think Jim is infected when he gouges the rapist’s eyes out and then when he kisses Selina, the other woman bops him over his head b/c she thinks he is biting her
28 days, our world after 28 days

Jacqueline Smilack, University of Colorado Denver
rhetoric of composition classroom as zombies: undead, mindless, etc…
horror genre can lure students into learning about rhetoric
World War Z for use of language and power of authorial voice
plagiarism in terms of Jane Austen and zombies

Oral history uses different language to create characters:
structure
vocabulary
tone
rhetorical moves through language
many students do not understand how language is used- dialect, jargon (harm or support ethos),

military jargon, colloquialism, takes from ethos

Use RAFT to rhetorically analyze text as well as to build writing assignments that involves student choice
Role
Audience
Format
Topic

students can dissect different chapters
Can choose one or two of the choices from four options in RAFT

What Would Jane Austen Do?
plagiarism becomes blurrier
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies:
fair use
plagiarism
academic dishonesty
incorporating sources
Lethern’s idea of “first use” and “second use” (Ecstasy of ???)

Not all students were familiar with the work (either PP or PPZ) or the deluxe edition with 34% more zombies.
Many liked the attribution.
But inserting scenes bothered them.
B/c changes on each page “original enough”

How to incorporate source material
Use the material to support their claims

Graham Smith makes a claim: Bennett women trained to fight zombies

academic writing is a mash-up of sources

Reanimating texts through multimodality
consider teaching mashups to show how two texts can work together to create something new
building on digital literacies
encourage critical reading and thinking
work with sources to create cohesive arguments
modes and content within modes work together to create effective arg.

watch a clip from The Grateful Dead
medical center’s triage flow chart, PSA, etc…

differentiates for different learning styles

zombie infestation:
romance with zombie as STD
t-shirst with robots and zombies
cupcakes
tip jars asking for zombie apocalypse money

Kyle Bishop “They’re Supposed to be Scary”
prof at Southern Utah U
academic textbook: American Zombie Gothic Friday at 3 pm book signing
zombies shouldn’t be big boys with dewy eyes
should be bad boys, midnight America
vamps got hijacked by soft focus romance (who says this?)

zombies are suffering a similar fate
too many zombies aren’t frightening anymore
“festive zombie walks”
starring as sympathetic leads

zombies new The Walking Dead reinvigorates zombie narrative with pathos, only way to frighten is if viewers actually care about the humans
increases the tragedy of characters by making the audience fear for the human/living characters

The Philosophy of Horror published 20 years ago Carroll(?sp)
mirroring effect that defines the genre

horror manifests physical symptoms: shudder, jump, scream…
simulated emotions—how do they become real for the audience?
implicit impurity (impurity alone = disgust)
perceived realistic threat (monster must be dangerous)

for zombies to get empathetic connection, emotional bonding
Dawn of the Dead wakens from a nightmare to find a worse nightmare in life—struggle for her to survive and bring her child to be born
viewers relate to the humans
feel Fran’s emptiness, laugh when rob bank for poker money
viewers sit by
personalized description of destruction, Peter is dying. Executed by Stephen.

art form must forge emotional connection
even Romero has abandoned the pathos level

“all the wrong people are dying. Seems like all we’ve got left are assholes.” Unfortunately she is right, so people don’t care about the death of the zombies. Hasn’t had the chance to get to know the characters.
Fear is even more absent in the film.
on the island, fear is irrelevant.
Muldoon calls the refugee humans whom he kills “strangers, no kin of mind”
“the dead are coming back to life. We should have been afraid of them, but we weren’t.”
by having no one to fear for, viewers have no one to react emotionally to

The Walking Dead effectively uses pathos.
originally the comics were a reaction to zombie movies
expansive action and detailed development of characterization

more about the characters than the zombies
about people who are forced to find peace/family/relationship together

Zombies are often absent.
After the credits, there are 14 minutes passing without zombies.
“Days gone by” has less than 17 minutes of walking dead, less than 25%.

screen horror: making characters likable and connected to the audience

After Rick awakens from his week-long coma. His first emotional breakdown is from his wife and son being missing. Sublimates horror of zombie to importance of family.

powerful departure from books- Jones’ haven’t moved on because his zombified wife is there.
Tries to shoot his zombied wife with a scope. Can’t do it.

fourth episode- family
Andrea and Amy fishing together.
reminiscence about fishing trips with father
Jim mourns his survival while his family is dead.
Amy is brutally killed by the zombies.

The Walking Dead terrifies because it allows audience to connect with the humans
viewers feel threatened when someone is in danger

Zombies work best when they are presented empathetically but not sympathetically.
Death is not the worst thing that can happen to you.
Zombies should be scary, but only can be when the audience cares about the living heros.

Dan Mason, Mansfield U
Why zombies have succeeded in invading our culture
David Monroe, blogger “These are dark times.”
300,000 people died only 16 mths ago in Haiti,
aftershocks in Japan continue
2M gallons of crude oil into Gulf…
Can the undead apocalypse be far away?
social, political upheaval… so great, lasted so long, when undead walked earth, folks were too involved to manage them

1929 Magic Island book beginning of the zombie
undead too easy to ignore or destroy
zombies are not any more dangerous than the hoodlums
people were not concerned enough to keep zombies happening

Siege story 1938 Carl Stephenson’s Leiningen versus the Ants (plantation owner)
unrelenting human wave
Japanese continued to attack until 1) all destroyed or 2) they won.
Flesh-eating vegetables The Day of the Triffids

Aliens invaded in Puppet Masters
I Am Legend– besieged each night
late 50s through 60s… siege experience was found everywhere
execution of president, senator, two civil rights

Night of the Living Dead ended with everyone in the house dead, except the lone black man. He greets the living outside when the morning comes. And they kill him.

people were not stirred up.

Charles Manson, Spiro Agnew, Richard Nixon
two-year term with two assassination attempt

Hunt Bros. brought about collapse of world economy because they tried to … silver.
students invaded Iran, Reagan, fired all air traffic controllers, Beirut bomber, Iranian terrorists…

Day of the Dead third attempt
tragedy of how lack of communication causes chaos and collapse
29th most popular movie of 1985
still no zombie apocalypse

Clinton’s time brought in a book about comet passing the earth, which brought the dead back to life. Still life was not bad enough for zombies.
suffered under 8 years of prosperity under Bill Clinton

2000/Y2K
computers
religious
survival packs
“traveled to Graceland and other holy sites”
tumultuous election

.com bubble burst
missile shield

3000 people died on 9/11/2001
people were okay with bombing
not okay with a land war

culture boiled over
Max Brooks’ Zombie Survivor Guide, looking at the Amazon listings, this book is #10 in humor, #169 in most popular

1000 books about the undead have been written since Brooks–many unknown even within the horror community
Stephen King turns folks into zombies when they answer their cell phones.

This is a live blogging of the session.

Dan Mason Bodies Without Organs: Community and Survival in 28 Days Later
Matt Saye, University of Mississippi
Rhetoric and Composition and Zombies: Using the Undead to Bring Life to the Composition Classroom
Jacqueline Smilack, University of Colorado Denver
They’re Supposed to be Scary: How The Walking Dead Remembers What George Romero Forgot
Kyle Bishop, Southern Utah University
Why the Undead Have Finally Succeeded in Invading Pop Culture
Dan Mason, Mansfield University

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