Embrace the Zombie Apocalypse

Look past the tatters and putrefaction. Scan the bent and broken bodies shuffling toward you. Do you recognize a coworker, a neighbor, maybe even a loved one?

It’s the zombie apocalypse — and it’s an idea that ever more academics are taking seriously.

They don’t expect the undead to swarm our cities, but they do notice that zombie invasion scenarios have spread through 21st-century popular culture like a pandemic, from tongue-in-cheek literary send-ups like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, to big-screen summer blockbusters like World War Z, to the record-breaking TV show Fear the Walking Dead (with the highest-rated first season of any series in cable history).

Medium or Message?

Some scholars, like the University of Virginia’s Paul Cantor, seek to decrypt our newfound fascination with the undead, to discern the hopes and fears of popular culture. For others, the zombie craze offers a way to communicate their own prior concerns to an audience already drawn to visions of the shambling hoards.

Scholars Amy and Antonio Thompson have recently finished work on a serious academic text called …But If a Zombie Apocalypse Did Occur: Essays on Medical, Military, Governmental, Ethical, Economic and Other Implications. The book is part of publisher McFarland’s larger series called Contrib…