How Zombies Conquered Popular Culture

The Multifarious Walking Dead in the 21st Century

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About the Book

Since the early 2000s, popular culture has experienced a “Zombie Renaissance,” beginning in film and expanding into books, television, video games, theatre productions, phone apps, collectibles and toys. Zombies have become allegorical figures embodying cultural anxieties, but they also serve as models for concepts in economics, political theory, neuroscience, psychology, computer science and astronomy. They are powerful, multifarious metaphors representing fears of contagion and doom but also isolation and abandonment, as well as troubling aspects of human cruelty, public spectacle and abusive relationships. This critical examination of the 21st-century zombie phenomenon explores how and why the public imagination has been overrun by the undead horde.

About the Author(s)

Kyle William Bishop is an associate professor of English and film studies and serves as the Honors Program Director at Southern Utah University in Cedar City, Utah. He has presented and published on a number of zombie-related texts and has authored two other monographs with McFarland.

Bibliographic Details

Kyle William Bishop
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 236
Bibliographic Info: filmography, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2015
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9541-2
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2208-8
Imprint: McFarland
Series: Contributions to Zombie Studies

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Acknowledgments ix

Preface 1

Introduction—A Multiplicity of Zombies: How the Walking Dead Conquered Popular Culture 5

Part One: Generic Triad

1—The (New) Cinematic Zombie: Road Trips, Globalization and World War Z 23

2—The Comedic Zombie: Zombieland and the Classical Functions of the Modern Zomedy 41

3—The Young Adult Zombie: Teenage Anxiety in The Forest of Hands and Teeth 55

Part Two: Beyond Film

4—The Comic Book Zombie: Human Devolution in The Walking Dead 73

5—The Literary Zombie: The Infected City of Colson Whitehead’s Zone One 89

6—The Stage Zombie: Dead Set, Uncle Vanya and Zombies, and the ­Reality-TV Monster 107

Part Three: Broader Horizons

7—The Video Game Zombie: The Last of Us and the Digital Evolution of the Walking Dead 131

8—The ­Non-Zombie Zombie: The Tragically Misidentified Draugar of Dead Snow 148

9—The Romantic Zombie: Warm Bodies and the Monstrous Boyfriend 163

Conclusion—The Television Zombie: The Future(s) of the Walking Dead 181

Filmography 191

Chapter Notes 195

Bibliography 207

Index 217


Book Reviews & Awards

“explores the renaissance of zombie pop culture in the 21st century”—Communications Booknotes Quarterly.