Got brains? New college course digs deep into zombies
A college course about zombies aims for the head as it teaches students about themselves.
Fri, Sep 17, 2010 at 10:09 AM
Photo: Rachel Cobcroft/Flickr
Zombies may be more interested in eating brains than in expanding their minds, but that won't stop students at the University of Baltimore from learning all about the walking dead in the new course, Media Genres: Zombies.
Part of the university's new minor in pop culture, the Zombies course will walk (or shamble) its 45 students through a full course of zombie-related movies, books and comic books.
Included on the syllabus are popular titles like last year's best-seller "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies," horror author Jonathan Maberry's zombie-terrorism thriller "Patient Zero," and the comic book "The Walking Dead" (soon to be a TV show on AMC, home of "Mad Men"). And, of course, there will be movies like George A. Romero's classic film, "Night of the Living Dead."
Why teach a course about zombies? The living dead are "one of the most perfect single reflections in our media of what we're thinking of at any given point as a culture, as individuals and as a nation," professor Arnold Blumberg told AOL News. Or as he told The Washington Post, "The zombie is, simply, us."
It's not a new idea. Romero's "Dead" movies are as much about race relations, gender, war and consumerism as they are about flesh-eating. Robert Kirkman's "Walking Dead" comic book is about characters pushed to the limits, when those limits just happen to be zombies. Brian Keene's "Rising" novels are about blue-color America and the importance of family (well, blue-color families overrun by the living dead). And that's just scratching the surface.
Teaching zombies, meanwhile, has a value in education. "These seemingly offbeat courses perform the same kind of function as other liberal arts courses, and that is to train you as a critical thinker and reader," Thomas S. Davis, assistant professor of English at Ohio State University, told TodayShow.com. "You are learning to be a more discerning reader of cultural texts and phenomena, and that's a good thing."
Whether or not the course will teach students how to avoid the zombie apocalypse remains to be seen.