Instructor: Sean McDonnell, University Writing Program, College of Letters and Science
Description: Zombies have been a mainstay of the Hollywood imagination since Victor Halperin cast Bela Lugosi in the 1932 film White Zombie. While perhaps best known for their curious appetites, the reanimated dead who feed on human flesh have also gnawed their way into the brains of ethnographers, scientists, philosophers, and cultural critics, who have used the figure of the zombie to ask questions about topics as far ranging as consciousness, free will, racism and immigration.
Seminar Goals: In this seminar, students will apply texts drawn from a range of disciplines (psychology, cognitive science, philosophy, film studies and cultural studies) to films from the zombie genre. Each week will pair a single, brief text and one film, including classics like Night of the Living Dead, and also films like Blade Runner, 28 Days Later and They Came Back which challenge the traditions of the genre. In so doing, students will gain an understanding of the zombie film genre and its place in American Culture. They will also gain some basic practice in reading cinematic texts, and develop an appreciation for interdisciplinary approaches to serious, academic appraisals of popular culture.
The seminar will meet one hour each week and will follow a discussion format, with occasional brief lectures.
Format: Students will watch one film each week outside of class (which will count as lab time), and will be expected to prepare comments for discussion based on their viewing. A reader with brief readings will also be required.
Grading: Students will be required to write a weekly reading/viewing journal (25%), lead (in pairs) a group discussion (15%), write a paper of 4-5 pages (30%) and participate in class discussions (30%).About the Instructor: Sean McDonnell has taught courses in literature, writing and film at Oklahoma State University, UC Merced and UC Davis. He teaches upper-division writing courses for the University Writing Program.