Zombie Nation


My name is Virginia Shirley and I’ve been teaching here since about 1995 in the English Department. I started teaching “Zombie Nation” in 2006 and it’s the world’s first college university-level zombie class. Sound: Horror music. They come from the bowels of hell. A transformed race of walking dead. Zombies! . . . “Zombie Nation” is a class that allows people to talk about things that are sometimes otherwise uncomfortable to talk about. We use “zombie” as a metaphor for our fear or our nervousness about government control, about pharmaceuticals . . . about race, about class gender. It doesn’t matter what the movie, there’s a mechanism to talk about the things that really kind of frighten us. What is a zombie? It depends on who you ask and when you ask them. If you would have gone through history, um – early zombies are anything from a hopping corpse to a Nacht Zehrer, which is a night waster. And, that was a way to explain child mortality. Nearly every culture has some sort of a zombie in their tradition. Basically, whatever the culture that you look at, they’re trying to explain the world going on around them. The only way to do that is to say, it must be this thing that we have done wrong to make the dead come up from out of the grave and come back to get us. We’re incredibly fascinated with death. We’re fascinated because we know that it’s our eventual fate that we can’t escape. It makes us stop and consider, if this is where we’re going to end up, what are we doing now? What is our greatest motivator? Fear or laziness? And, if it’s one of those two, we better start rethinking what we are doing and find a better way to live. Because that is going to come, no matter what we do. You’re still afraid. Stop it now, I mean it! If students should take one thing out of the class, I guess it’s to stop living as a zombie. All too often, we put things off; we sort of allow the daily grind to sort of you know, sort of flatten us out and sort of depress us. We don’t react to things that we should react to. We don’t stand up for things we need to stand up to. And, I think just not being a zombie in our everyday life. Stop and it sounds like really cliche’ic, but stop and smell the coffee. Stop and have that experience. Look at a sunrise. Actually be in the world, without letting it just completely pass you by. And, I think that’s what I would like them to take out of it.

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2 Responses

  1. Kathy says:

    This class sounds so interesting!

  2. Brian Oloo says:

    wow, amazing!!!

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