The Politics of Race, Gender and Sexuality in The Walking Dead

Essays on the Television Series and Comics

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About the Book

From the beginning, both Robert Kirkman’s comics and AMC’s series of The Walking Dead have brought controversy in their presentations of race, gender and sexuality. Critics and fans have contended that the show’s identity politics have veered toward the decidedly conservative, offering up traditional understandings of masculinity, femininity, heterosexuality, racial hierarchy and white supremacy. This collection of new essays explores the complicated nature of relationships among the story’s survivors. In the end, characters demonstrate often-surprising shifts that consistently comment on identity politics. Whether agreeing or disagreeing with critics, these essays offer a rich view of how gender, race, class and sexuality intersect in complex new ways in the TV series and comics.

About the Author(s)

Elizabeth Erwin is an assistant professor/librarian and writes about all things that go bump in the night at Horror Homeroom, a website she co-founded. She lives in Hellertown, Pennsylvania.

Dawn Keetley is a professor of English at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Elizabeth L. Erwin and Dawn Keetley

Series Editor Kyle William Bishop

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 200
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2018
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6849-9
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3476-0
Imprint: McFarland
Series: Contributions to Zombie Studies

Table of Contents

Introduction: Identity Politics in The Walking Dead (Dawn Keetley) 1

Arête of Violence: Hypermasculinity as Power Currency in the ­Post-Apocalyptic Political Economy (Dustin Dunaway) 11

The Curious Case of ­T-Dog: A Magical Negro? (Elexus Jionde) 21

The Hyperreal Hillbilly: Horror, Melodrama and Backwoods White Protagonists (Kom Kunyosying and Carter Soles) 31

“There’s no niggers anymore… There’s us and the dead”: Masculinity in a ­Post-Racial, ­Post-Apocalyptic America (Brooke Bennett) 43

Becoming Glenn: Asian American Masculinity (Helen K. Ho) 54

“Look at the flowers”: Meme Culture and the (Re)Centering of Hegemonic Masculinities Through Women Characters (Tiffany A. Christian) 65

A Woman’s Work Is Never Done: Mothering and Marriage (Elizabeth Erwin) 78

“We ain’t ashes”: Daryl, Carol and the Burning Away of Traditional Gender Roles (Catherine Pugh) 93

The Beauty of Beth Greene (Deborah Kennedy) 107

The Sexualized Heroics of Rick and Michonne (Emily Zarka) 119

Rules for Surviving Rape Culture (Natalie Wilson) 129

“We can’t just ignore the rules”: Queer Heterosexualities (John R. Ziegler) 142

Afterword: From Identity Politics to Tribalism (Dawn Keetley) 155

Episode List 165

Bibliography 173

About the Contributors 183

Index 185