Better off Dead: The Evolution of the Zombie as Post-Human

Better off Dead: The Evolution of the Zombie as Post-Human

Better off Dead: The Evolution of the Zombie as Post-Human

Better off Dead: The Evolution of the Zombie as Post-Human

Synopsis

The zombie is ubiquitous in popular culture: from comic books to video games, to internet applications and homemade films, zombies are all around us. Investigating the zombie from an interdisciplinary perspective, with an emphasis on deep analytical engagement with diverse kinds of texts, Better Off Dead addresses some of the more unlikely venues where zombies are found while providing the reader with a classic overview of the zombie's folkloric and cinematic history. What has the zombie metaphor meant in the past? Why does it continue to be so prevalent in our culture? Where others have looked at the zombie as an allegory for humanity's inner machinations or claimed the zombie as capitalist critique, this collection seeks to provide an archaeology of the zombie-tracing its lineage from Haiti, mapping its various cultural transformations, and suggesting the post-humanist direction in which the zombie is ultimately heading. Approaching the zombie from many different points of view, the contributors look across history and across media. Though they represent various theoretical perspectives, the whole makes a cohesive argument: The zombie has not just evolved within narratives; it has evolved in a way that transforms narrative. This collectionannounces a new post-zombie, even before the boundaries of this rich and mysterious myth have been completely charted.

Excerpt

That the zombie is ubiquitous in popular culture cannot be disputed: From popular literature and comic books to video games and performance art, in smartphone applications and in homemade films, zombies are all around us. Though horror film has been of interest to scholars for decades, some critics have heralded a resurgence of the zombie in popular culture and, subsequently, inaugurated a new boom of scholarly investigation of this fearsome figure of living death. Perhaps we can say with certainty that the zombie is more popular now than ever before; it has even seemed to have crashed the boundaries of narrative and stepped into real life. Newspapers are full of stories of large-scale games of zombie tag, of zombie proms, of zombie warnings posted on road signs by cheeky hackers: this transgression from the screen to the street is but one of the many types of “zombie evolution” we discuss herein. Assembling this collection in the year marking the bicentennial of Charles Darwin’s birth, and the sesquicentennial of his publication of On the Origin of Species (1859)—the seminal text describing the principle of evolution and postulating that humans and apes descended from a common ancestor—we felt that our project was haunted by the zeitgeist, for this collection charts the evolution of the zombie, establishing how this myth has developed along with human civilization. With an eye toward the future (and perhaps a tongue . . .

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