Saturday, August 28, 2010

Pop Culture: New Course Explores Use of Zombies In Pop Culture

From August 31st this year, the University of Baltimore will roll out its new pop culture minor with a course on zombies. The course instructor, Arnold T. Blumberg, M.A. ’96, D.C.D. ’04, visiting professor in UB’s School of Communication Design and co-author of Zombiemania: 80 Movies to Die For, literally wrote the book on the subject. It’s one of only a handful of courses like it in the country.
Blumberg says: “The zombie functions as an allegory for all sorts of things that play out in our country, whether it’s the threat of communism during the Cold War or our fears about bioterrorism in 2010. It’s relatively easy to connect the zombie to what is happening in culture.”

UB’s School of Communications Design Director Jonathan Shorr sees zombies in a larger context: “We know from archaeologists and anthropologists that a society’s artifacts tell us a lot about what that culture valued and feared. Stories about King Arthur, for example, aren’t stories about 9th century England as much as about the culture of the time in which the work was produced. The same is true with zombies.

”Even major fans of zombies—and they’re out there, by the millions,” says Blumberg, “may not spend time contemplating the underlying meaning of this monster, despite its potency. It takes some close attention to really understand what a given film, book or graphic novel is saying about the zombie—and what zombies are saying about the culture. That’s what we’ll be getting into this fall.”

Blumberg, curator of Geppi’s Entertainment Museum in Baltimore, has done extensive research into the genre, and the course will spend some time looking at the history and legacy of this particular “brand” of monster, in cinema, literature and folklore, as well as the (pseudo) science that is occasionally brought in to prove the existence of zombies.

(Unfortunately, for Australian zombiphiles, Baltimore is obviously in a whole 'nother country. You can't just jump in the car and drive there).

For more information on the course (and other zombie-related goodness) visit Dr. Blumberg's website at:

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