Schedule

Please note: this schedule has been revised, particularly March 19th & 26th.

Note re. films: you are expected to see the films yourselves, before class. Some are available on Kanopy, which is free to you as UNB students. Some are available on Netflix or other streaming platforms to which you may or may not have access. Some are available on DVD from the UNB library. We will discuss access to films in the first class.

January 8 — Introduction to the course: what is a zombie?

In class:

  • Zombies: some history, background, and preliminary definitions
  • Administrative matters: going through syllabus; setting up blogs; access to films; choosing presentation topics
  • Film: Voodoo and the Church in Haiti  Dir. Andrea Leland (44 min., 1989, Kanopy)

January 15 — Beginnings, mutations, and reinventions

Before class: 

  • Readings posted on D2L: i) from The Penguin Book of the Undead; ii) from W.B. Seabrook’s The Magic Island; iii) Madison Smartt Bell, “Out of the Tombs.” Then, iv) have a good, close look at the map posted with the readings.
  • Reading online: Madison Smartt Bell, “Out of the Tombs.”
  • Films: White Zombie (68 min., 1932, Kanopy; Internet Archive); I walked with a Zombie (69 min., 1943, D2L)

In class:

  • Discussion topics : medieval/early modern burial practices, specifically cases of premature burial; historical antecedents; monster as metaphor; definitions; genre (science fiction or horror?)

Blogging prompt(s):

  • Post your definition of a zombie.
  • What’s in a title? What do you make of the title of Seabrook’s book? Bell’s story? The films: White Zombie and I walked with a Zombie?
  • See also general blogging prompts

January 22 — Class cancelled due to road conditions

[Material for this week has been integrated into subsequent classes.]

January 29 — Origins and metaphors/Towards last men

Before class: 

  • Reading: Frankétienne, Dézafi (1975; Trans. Asselin Charles 2018)
  • Films: Get Out (2017)

In class:

  • Presentation(s): colonialism & slave rebellions in Haiti: Tanya P.
  • Discussion topics: race and horror movies/tv; Get Out: zombies?; if we have time and enough of you have started the reading, we might start discussing I Am Legend: zombies or vampires? gender/sexuality

Blogging prompt(s):

  • Are the characters in Get Out really zombies? Arguments for and against.
  • Does the pairing of Get Out work with Dézafi? Why or why not?
  • See also general blogging prompts

February 5 — Who’s the zombie?

Before class: 

In class:

  • Presentation(s): the history of “the last man” scenario in literature: Elijah W.; Chuck Palahniuk, his oeuvre, and how this story fits: Katherine H.
  • Discussion topics: I Am Legend: zombies or vampires?; Roberto Bolaño, his oeuvre, and how this story fits; “literary” authors writing zombies
  • DUE DATE: Position paper #1: hand in papers

Blogging prompt(s):

  • If you were the last person on earth, what do you imagine you would enjoy doing? Why?
  • After the class discussion, would you reconsider any element of your paper?
  • See also general blogging prompts

February 12 — The apocalypse will be televised

Before class: 

  • Reading: Mira Grant, Feed (2010); “Fed” (the alternate ending)
  • Films: George Romero, Diary of the Dead (2008)

In class:

  • Discussion topics: fandom; media; the two endings
  • Position paper #1: roundtable discussion

Blogging prompt(s):

  • If this is your first time reading a book from this series, do you think you might continue? Why or why not?
  • If you have read other books in this series, discuss how Grant develops her themes. (Be sure to attach spoiler alerts if you discuss any plot points from subsequent novels or stories).
  • See also general blogging prompts

February 19 — Existential apocalypse

Before class: 

  • Reading: Colson Whitehead, Zone One (2011)
  • Films: nothing required this week but try to get in some undead screen-time, and consider blogging about what you watch.

In class:

  • Discussion topics: role of the government; race; class and economic disparity; Colson Whitehead, his oeuvre, and how this novel fits

Blogging prompt(s):

February 26 — Existential apocalypse prolonged

Before class: 

  • Reading: finish Zone One if you haven’t already
  • Films: nothing required this week but try to get in some undead screen-time, and consider blogging about what you watch.

In class:

  • Anything left undiscussed from last week; new thoughts emerging from your reading/blogging

Blogging prompt(s):

March 5 — March break — no class — stay safe

Blogging prompt(s):

  • Check out some international (i.e. non-North-American) zombie action and consider the ways in which other cultures imagine zombies and what that might mean. Check the movie list for examples of international films and series.

March 12 — Think globally …

Before class: 

  • Reading: Max Brooks, World War Z: an oral history of the zombie war (2013)
  • Film: World War Z

In class:

  • Presentation: other folkloric beliefs in zombies or zombie-like phenomena: Keira M.
  • Discussion topics: What do zombie scenarios have to teach us about human society? governance?
  • DUE DATE: Position paper #2: roundtable discussion in class/hand in papers

Blogging prompt(s):

March 19 — … act locally

Before class: 

  • Reading: Christopher Jessulat. The Decline (2016)
  • Film: Les Affamés is available on Netflix.

In class:

Christopher Jessulat is scheduled to visit our class for an open-ended discussion about The Decline, so think of possible questions or issues you might like to bring up about his novel or his writing process.

Blogging prompt(s):

  • What questions might you like to ask Christopher Jessulat?
  • Consider the implications of the title.
  • Most importantly, now that the Coast Guard station is gone, what the heck will we do?
  • See also general blogging prompts

March 26 — Strong and free

Before class: 

  • Reading: from Silvia Moreno-Garcia, ed., Dead North: The Exile Book of Canadian Zombie Fiction (2013): TBA
  • Film: Les Affamés if you didn’t watch it last week. Otherwise, the world is your (putrefying) oyster, but try to go Canadian, eh?

In class:

  • Discussion topics: Even when undead, the stereotypes persist

Blogging prompt(s):

  • Some texts focus on the global scale of the pandemic, while others present fragmented local scenarios, cut off from the outside. Explore.
  • See also general blogging prompts

April 2 — IS Canada a good place to be in during a zombie apocalypse?

Before class: 

  • Reading: from Dead North: TBA
  • Films: Go Canadian or go home

In class:

  • Presentations: Indigenous tales and legends: Bethany F.; the trope of the harmless zombie: Shannon S.
  • Discussion topics: landscape and terrain in zombie narratives
  • DUE DATE: Position paper #3: roundtable discussion in class/hand in papers

Blogging prompt(s):

  • You could blog about some little-known Canadian zombie gem you have discovered, any media.
  • “Zomcoms”: abominations, or kinda sweet?
  • After the class discussion, would you reconsider any element of your paper?
  • See also general blogging prompts

April 9 — And to end on a whiffy note, “just add zombies”

Before class: 

  • Reading: Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2009)
  • Film: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

In class:

  • Presentation: “Jane-ites”/Austen fandom: Matthew K.
  • Discussion topics: mashups; when fandoms collide; popularity of this series

Blogging prompt(s):

[Image: detail from Zombies Chronicles Timeline, Call of Duty: Black Ops III]

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