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Literature and Popular Culture, The British Zombie Film
Transcript of Literature and Popular Culture, The British Zombie Film
1. Zombie Body, Zombie Mind; or the Liberating Horror of the Real.
2. "We may have to kill my stepdad"; The Ethics of Contagion
, from which all zombies are derived, the word zombie meant not just ‘
a body without a soul
’ but also ‘
a soul without a body
Sarah Juliet Lauro and Karen Embry, “A Zombie Manifesto: The Nonhuman Condition in the Era of Advanced Capitalism”,
2 35.i (2008): 97.
“Ghosts and revenants are known world-wide, but few are
as consistently associated with economy and labour as the shambling corpse of Haitian vodun
, brought back from the dead to toil in the fields and factories by miserly land-owners or by spiteful houngan or bokor priests […]
The zombie, a soul-less hulk mindlessly working at the bidding of another
, thus records a residual
communal memory of slavery
: of living a life without dignity and meaning, of going through the motions.”
Peter Dendle, “The Zombie as Barometer of Cultural Anxiety”,
Monsters and the Monstrous
(Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2007), p. 46.
The Magic Island
, dir. Victor Hugo Halperin,
“The zombie represents not only a lineage of enslavement, from Haitian history to modern warfare, but also
the current enslavements of capitalism, governmental power, and technology.
Sorcha Ni Fhlainn, “All Dark Inside: Dehumanization and Zombification in Postmodern Cinema,”
Better off Dead: The Evolution of the Zombie as
(New York: Fordham UP, 2011), p. 153.
“Robert Neville looked out over
the new people of the earth
. He knew he did not belong to them; he knew that, like the vampires, he was anathema and black terror to be destroyed. And, abruptly, the concept came, amusing to him even in his pain...
Full circle. A new terror born in death
, a new superstition entering the unassailable fortress of forever. I am legend.”
I Am Legend
“In interview after interview Romero maintains that he was especially interested in Matheson’s representation of
one civilization replacing another
Deborah Christie, “A Dead New World: Richard Matheson and the Modern Zombie”,
Better off Dead
, p. 67.
“I don’t want there to be a cause, it’s just something that’s happening,
it’s just a different deal, it’s a different way of life
. If you want to look at it
as a revolution, a new society coming in and devouring the old
, however you want to look at it. That’s really my take on it, it doesn’t matter.”
“There’s No Magic: A Conversation with George A. Romero”, Film Journal (October 2004)
The "New" Zombie
“The monstrous body is
construct and a projection
, the monster exists only to be read: the monstrum is etymologically ‘that which reveals,’ ‘that which warns,’ a glyph that seeks a hierophant. Like a letter on the page, the monster signifies something other than itself.”
Jeffrey Jerome Cohen,
Monster Theory: Reading Culture
(Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1996), p. 4.
Reading Monsters, Reading Cultures
"The Church of England has now joined other religious extremists groups in proclaiming this a sign of
a coming apocalypse
Zombie Body, Zombie Mind
“A zombie lacks conscious experiences separate from physical processes, those events that brain researcher refer to
cannot retain a sense of self
– a unique,
[…] you cannot have a zombie that retains its
sense of identity
Kevin A. Boon, “Ontological Anxiety Made Flesh: The Zombie in Literature,
Film and Culture”,
Monsters and the Monstrous
, p. 36.
“The essence of the 'zombie' at the most abstract level is
supplanted, stolen, or effaced consciousness
Dendle, “The Zombie as Barometer of Cultural Anxiety”, p. 47.
, the zombie is incapable of examining self. It is
emptied of being, a receptacle of nothingness, wholly other
. This is the philosophical foundation of the zombie”.
Kevin A. Boon, “The Zombie as Other: Mortality and the Monstrous in
the Post-Nuclear Age”,
Better off Dead
, p. 54.
“[Zombies are] entirely
out of control
: cannibalistic automatons, with variously damaged and decaying bodies […] They are simply
Andrew Tudor, “Unruly Bodies, Unquiet Minds”,
Body and Society
1 (1995): 33.
“They are basically
mindless automatons driven by base instincts
Ronald Allan Lopez Cruz, “Mutations and Metamorphoses: Body Horror Is Biological Horror”,
Journal of Popular Film and Television
40.iv (2012): 166
Capitalistic Alienation 2.0
"The fact that the mobile deceased retained their primal instincts make them
ideal recruitments for the service industry
Conscious Life v. Zombie "Life"
“This kind of court case pronounces
cognizance the determining factor of what constitutes life
. If consciousness is found to be
, the person in question is
decided not to be a ‘person’ at all
Lauro and Embry, “A Zombie Manifesto”, p. 105.
“The zombie has been
robbed of all the qualities that make up personhood
– feelings, sentience, reflexivity, memories”.
Phantasmagoria: Spirit Visions, Metaphors, and Media into the
(Oxford: Oxford UP, 2006), p. 359.
“Zombification is the logical conclusion of human reductionism: it is to
reduce a person to body
Dendle, “The Zombie as Barometer”, p. 48.
“Romero asked what he would do if zombies were to take over the planet, responded that
he would go right out and get bitten
: ‘That way I could live forever’”
Lauro and Embry, “A Zombie Manifesto”, p. 88.
The Cultural Body
“If one really thinks about the body as such, there is
no possible outline of the body
as such. There are
thinkings of the systematicity of the body
, there are value codings of the body. The body, as such, cannot be thought, and I certainly cannot approach it.”
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, “In a Word: Interview with
1.ii (1989): 149.
encountering himself as substance, body or thing
, an encounter that draws attention to the fact that 'he' (as subject) is void – emptied of substance. Paradoxically,
this encounter also produces the subject
, since its
differentiation from substance
brings it into existence.”
Chantal Bourgault Du Coudray,
The Curse of the Werewolf: Fantasy, Horror and the Beast Within
(London: I. B. Tauris, 2006), p. 110.
“The narcissistic model of the ego implies that
the ego can take itself, its own image, parts of its own body as an ‘object’
, and invest them as if they were external or 'other'.”
Elizabeth A. Grosz,
Jacques Lacan: A Feminist Introduction
(London: Routledge, 1990), p. 30)
“The theory we have in mind is a
genetic theory of the ego
. Such a theory can be considered psycho-analytic in so far as it treats
the relation of the subject to his own body
in terms of his
identification with an imago
, which is the psychic relationship par excellence.”
Jacques Lacan, “Some Reflections on the Ego”,
The International Journal of Psycho-Analysis
34.i (1953): 12.
“We cannot fail to appreciate the affective value which the
gestalt of the vision of the whole body-image
may assume when we consider the fact that it
appears against the background of organic disturbance and discord
, in which all the indications are that we should seek the origins of the ‘
body in bits and pieces
Lacan, “Some Reflections”, 15.
“It is in this
subject for the first time knows himself as a unity
, but as an alienated, virtual unity.”
The Seminars of Jacques Lacan, Book II: The Ego in Freud's Theory and in the
Technique of Psychoanalysis, 1954-1955
(Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1988), p. 50.
The Structure of the Psyche
“the emergence of the
as such in human life […] impl[ies] the totality of everything which is human.
Everything is ordered in accordance with the symbols
which have emerged, in accordance with the symbols once they have appeared. Everything which is human has to be ordained within a universe constituted by the symbolic function [...] This symbolic order, since it always presents itself as a whole, as forming a universe all by itself – and even constituting the universe as such, as distinct from the world – must also be
structured as a whole
, that is to day, it forms a dialectic structure which holds together, which
The Seminars, Book II
, pp. 29-30.
“How can one deny that
nothing of the world appears to me except in my representations
The Seminars of Jacques Lacan, Book XI: The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psycho-analysis
(Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1979), p. 81.
“the revelation of this something which properly speaking is
, the back of this throat, the complex, unlocatable form, which also makes it into the primitive object par excellence,
the abyss of the feminine organ
all life emerges
, this gulf of the mouth, in which
everything is swallowed up
, and no less the image of death in which everything comes to its end.”
The Seminars, Book II
, p. 164.
“The Real is the
order preceding the ego
and the organization of the drives. It is an
anatomical, ‘natural’ order
(nature in the sense of resistance rather than positive substance), a
pure plenitude or fullness
[…] The Real has
no boundaries, borders, divisions, or oppositions
; it is a continuum of raw materials”.
, p. 34.
Me, My Image and the Rest
Zombie Self, Zombie Other?
To succumb is to become
, and once you have become a zombie,
self is lost irrevocably to the other
Boon, “Ontological Anxiety Made Flesh”, p. 34.
one of us
before we realize that
he is one of them
. He and all the rest of the living dead retain the physical appearance of human beings […] The living dead, as Romero told an interviewer, are
Gregory A. Waller,
Living and the Undead: Slaying Vampires, Exterminating Zombies
(Urbana, IL: University of
Illinois, 2010), p. 276.
“That’s not even your husband in there, ok? I know it
looks like him
nothing of the man you loved
in that car. Nothing!”
“If someone gets infected, you’ve got between ten and twenty seconds to
. It might be
your brother, your sister or your oldest friend. It makes no difference
28 Days Later
Zombie Self, Zombie Other?
“They’re us, that’s all.”
“It is of course precisely
the failure of the monstrous body
to observe the material and metaphorical cordon sanitaire, its
failure to wholly occupy the place of the other
, that grounds anxiety [...] It is, then, in their failure to wholly and only occupy the place of the other that such monsters
betray the fragility of the distinctions
by which the human subject is fixed and maintained as
fully present to itself and autonomous
[…] It is in its failure to fully occupy the category of the other, in its
, that the monster marks the impossibility of the modernist self. Monsters
haunt us, not because they represent an external threat
– and indeed some are benign – but
because they stir recognition within
, a sense of our openness and vulnerability that western discourse insists on covering over.”
Embodying the Monster: Encounters with the Vulnerable Self
(London: SAGE Publications, 2002), pp. 55-6, 73-4, 81.
“I killed… I killed
Zombie Other, Uncanny Self
the Other which is our self
, but a self projected into the world.”
Sander L. Gilman,
Inscribing the Other
(Lincoln: University of Nebraska, 1991), p. 14.
“That's Mr. Bridges […] And his daughter. They live four doors down.”
The "Clean and Proper" Body
must bear no trace of its debt to nature
: it must be
clean and proper
in order to
be fully symbolic
[…] Any other mark would be the sign of belonging to the impure, the non-separate, the non-symbolic, the non-holy.”
Powers of Horror:
An Essay on Abjection
Columbia UP, 1982), p. 102.
“We have come to inhabit bodies
as if we are self-enclosed, separate, autonomous units
Lisa Blackman, “Bodily Integrity”,
Body & Society
16.iii (2010): 2.
“In immunology’s self-understanding the
organism’s integrity in the face of other organisms
, the aspect of cellular specialisation which
determines distinctions and relations between self and other
. For the most part this relationship is conceptualised as intrinsically hostile, a microscopic struggle between species for predominance. The simple existence of other organisms is taken to present the constant possibility of colonisation or fusion.”
AIDS and the Body Politic: Biomedicine and Sexual Difference
(London: Routledge, 1996), p. 55.
“The skin [is] the essential if not initial
boundary of biological and psychic individuation
Powers of Horror
, p. 101.
“It is thus not lack of cleanliness or health that causes abjection but
what disturbs identity, system, order
. What does not respect borders, positions, rules. The
in-between, the ambiguous, the composite
Kristeva, p. 4
“There is nothing either objective or objectal to the abject. It is
simply a frontier
, a repulsive gift that the Other, having become alter ego, drops
so that ‘I’ does not disappear in it
but finds, in that sublime alienation, a
Kristeva, p. 9.
Skin, Abjection and Liminality
[…] the jettisoned object, is
draws me toward the place where meaning collapses
takes the ego back to its source
on the abominable limits from which, in order to be, the ego has broken away.”
, p. 15.
“One might think of the encounter with an abject as a ‘
direct encounter with the real
’ – as/in an
that does not allow for the distancing/separation that is the prerequisite for objectification.”
Hanjo Berressem, “On the Matter of Abjection.”
The Abject of Desire
(Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2007), pp. 20-21.
Abjection and the Real
“There is an obvious and prominent fact about human beings:
they have bodies and they are bodies
. More lucidly,
human beings are embodied, just as they are enselved
Bryan S. Turner, T
he Body and Society:
Explorations in Social Theory, 2nd ed
(London: Sage Publications, 1996), p. 37.
The Embodied and Vulnerable Self
The Pleasureable Horror of the Real
“It is this
capacity for excess
that sustain the
fascination of contagion
in the cultural imagination of the west.”
Alison Bashford and Claire Hooker,
Contagion: Historical and
(London: Routledge, 2001), p. 2.
“We may have to kill my stepdad”: The Ethics of Contagion.
Therese Frare, "David Kirby",
Dawn of the Dead
, dir. Zack Snyder (2004)
Extra being prepared on the set of
The Walking Dead
Ebola victim in Liberia
Invasion, Invaders and Enemies
“Contagion requires contact. But it always implies more than this: it
implies absorption, invasion, vulnerability, the breaking of a boundary imagined as secure
, in which the other becomes part of the self. Contagion connotes both a process of contact and transmission, and
a substantive, self-replicating agent
, and is centrally concerned with the growth and multiplication of this agent.”
Bashford and Hooker,
, p. 4.
enlist the full range of immune responses […] Many of the
to escape detection. The viruses that cause influenza and the common cold, for example, constantly mutate, changing their
. The AIDS virus,
most insidious of all
, employs a range of
in healthy cells. What makes it fatal is its ability to
invade and kill
helper T-cells, thereby short-circuiting the entire immune response.”
P. Jaret, “The Wars Within,”
June 1986: 709.
“What one recognizes immediately […] is the
reigning image-system for all diseases
in Western culture, that of
Scott L. Montgomery, “Codes and Combat in Biomedical Discourse,”
Science as Culture
2.iii (January 1991): 347.
"This ain’t a goddamn field trip people. This is a fucking war!"
“the language of militarism
portrays its users as a terrorized and occupied people
Montgomery, p. 349.
“Bio-militarism […] is
dependent on the concept of disease ‘agents’ and ‘agencies’
and their counterparts within the body.”
Montgomery, p. 370.
“How can there
be an activity
, a constructing,
without presupposing an agent
who precedes and performs that activity?”
Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of "Sex"
(New York: Routledge, 1993), p. 7.
belong to biology because they posses genes, replicate, evolve, and are adapted to particular hosts, biotic habitats, and ecological niches. However […]
they are nonliving infectious entities
that can be said, at best, to lead a kind of borrowed life.”
Marc van Regenmortel and Brian Mahy,
Desk Encyclopedia of General Virology
(Oxford: Academic, 2010), p. 22.
“Analogical reasoning, involving
endowing a mysterious disease entity with human characteristics and motivations
, provides a way of thinking about and articulating the ‘fight’ against it, allowing individuals and societies
to feel more in control
Fictions of Disease in Early Modern England: Bodies, Plagues and Politics
(New York: Palgrave, 2001), p. 62.
transformation of Gaetan Dugas into “Patient Zero”
animation of the [HIV] virus
, which, like the converted pod people, loosed the specter of wilful scourge.”
Contagious: Cultures, Carriers, and the Outbreak Narrative
(Durham: Duke UP, 2008), p. 215)
“In medical writing, [Persons Living with HIV/AIDS]
cannot ‘distinguish self from non-self
Gill Green and Elisa Janine Sobo,
The Endangered Self: Managing the Social Risk of HIV
(London: Routledge, 2000), p. 32.
“The portrait of
, the portrait of
, is therefore
the image of the disease anthropomorphized
Sander L. Gilman,
Disease and Representation:
Images of Illness from Madness to AIDS
(Ithaca; London: Cornell UP, 1988), p. 2.
Agent of Contagion
Jenner: “It invades the brain like meningitis. The adrenal glands, the brain goes into shutdown, then the major organs. Then death.
Everything you ever were or ever will be, gone
Lori: “It restarts the brain?”
Jenner: “No, just the brain stem. Basically, it gets them up and moving.”
Rick: “But they’re not alive?”
Jenner: “You tell me?”
Rick: “It’s nothing like before. Most of the brain is dark.”
Jenner: ‘Dark, lifeless, dead. The frontal love, the neocortex,
the human part… That doesn’t come back
. The “you” part.
Just a shell, driven by mindless instinct.
The Walking Dead
, AMC (2010)
“When extenuating circumstances were introduced in 1832 it became possible to pass sentences that were not modulated according to the circumstances of the crime, but
according to the description, assessment, and diagnosis of the criminal himself.
Abnormal: Lectures at the Collège De France 1974-1975
(London: Verso, 2003), p. 32.
Volition, the Law and the "Dangerous" Criminal
“on the other, there is the
notion of ‘danger,’
which will make possible the justification and theoretical foundation of an uninterrupted chain of medico-judicial institutions.”
Foucault, p. 34.
“If a person is simply
, then it is
no longer a matter of deciding whether criminal acts occurred
. Indeed, “deeming” someone dangerous is an
that in these cases works to preempt determinations from which evidence is required.”
Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence
(London: Verso, 2004), p. 76.
“The logical flaw in these
hypothetical constructions of future events
is always the same:
what first appears as a hypothesis
– with or without its implied alternatives, according to the level of sophistication – t
urns immediately, usually after a few paragraphs, into a “fact,”
which then gives birth to a whole string of similar non-facts, with the
result that the purely speculative character of the whole enterprise is forgotten.
(London: Allen Lane, 1970), pp. 6-7.
Medical Risk and Danger
“The concept of
[though well recognized in public health law] has never been clarified or defined […] A risk is significant only if the mode of transmission is
scientifically well established
, there is a
that viral transmission will take place, and the
Larry Gostin, “The Politics of AIDS: Compulsory State Powers, Public Health, and Civil Liberties,”
Ohio State Law Journal
49 (1989): 1021.
she’s going to
change. You know I’m right. And when she does,
she’ll come back
kill all of us. That’s what your ex can’t seem to realise. [...] She’s not your mum anymore.
In a minute
she’ll be just another zombie.”
Major West: “Who have you killed? Since it began who have you killed? You wouldn’t be alive now if you hadn’t killed anybody.”
Jim: “I killed… I killed a boy.”
Major West: “A child?”
Major West: “But
you had to
he would have killed you
. Survival. I understand.”
28 Days Later
alienated their fears, rights and powers
to gods, emperors, and most recently sovereign states, all
to protect themselves
from the vicissitudes of nature – as well as from other gods, emperors, and sovereign states.”
James Der Derian, “The Value of Security: Hobbes, Marx, Nietzsche, and Baudrillard,”
The Political Subject of Violence
(Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1993), p. 95.
“The tradition of American political thought sets
individual autonomy in opposition to collective power
Jennifer Nedelsky, “Reconceiving Autonomy:
Sources, Thoughts and Possibilities,”
Yale Journal of Law and Feminism
1.vii (1989): 13.
In the zombie narrative, the human tends to be the few fighting against the interests of the many, i.e. the zombies. Could it suggest that the zombie story goes against the idea of an opposition between public good and private interests to expose its problematic foundations, or is it that when we mean the "public good", we mean a certain kind of public, a certain kind of people, regardless of their actual number?
How can we make sense of the paradox which is at the heart of the private v. public debate, that is, that the individual is what makes the public, and the individual is an integral part of the community, so how can her/his interests go against those of the public? Are not her/his interests part of said "public good" itself? Or, in other words, what exactly is the status of the individual in regard to this community?
2003 SARS Epidemic, Taiwan
130'000 people quarantined with a 0.3% rate of infecton.
130'000 x 0.3% = 690 cases
130'000 - 690 =
129'610 endangered innocents
What would you do
with a diseased little island? They
28 Days Later
that condemns or acquits is not simply a judgement of guilt, a legal decision that lays down punishment; it
bears within it an assessment of normality
and a technical prescription for a possible normalization.”
Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison
(New York: Vintage, 1995), pp. 20-1.
Lawfully Human and Normal
as a tribal circle gathered around the fire amid the looming darkness of a dangerous world, as the party of revelers sequestered from the plague, as the exclusive club of the Human, complete with
all the rights and privileges
pertaining thereunto (for example, the right to eat non-members of the club and the privilege not to be eaten).”
Judith Halberstam and Ira Livingston,
(Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1995), p. 10.
“the idea of common
humanity can be withheld or deployed
against anyone who threatens the social order.”
John T. Parry, “Finding a Right to Be Tortured,”
Law and Literature
19.ii (2007): 212.
order to cure
, you must first understand.”
Activist: “We’re taking
your torture victims
28 Days Later
Major West: “Eventually
’ll tell me how long
take to starve to death.”
28 Days Later
Nomenclatures, Language and Dehumanization
Ed: “Any zombies out there?”
Shaun: “Don’t say that.”
The Z word
. Don’t say it.”
Ed: “Why not?”
Shaun: “Because it’s ridiculous.”
David: “She’s not your mum anymore. In a minute she’ll be
just another zombie.
Shaun: “Don’t say that.”
We’re not using the Z word.
suffering of this other
neither recognized nor embraced
. The misfortunes of the other will be of
are persons outside that collective circle
of identity called community.”
Robert Crawford, “The Boundaries of the Self and the
Unhealthy Other: Reflections on Health, Culture and AIDS,”
Social Science & Medicine
38.x (1994): 1363.
Suffering; or a Life Worth Mourning?
The "Bio" of "Bio-Ethics"
conjunction of ‘ethics’ and ‘bio’
is in itself
Ethics: An Essay on the Understanding of Evil
(London: Verso, 2002), p. 37.
“The word bioethics was first applied in 1971 by Van Rensselaer Potter who understood ‘bioethical’ as
the application of biological sciences in order to improve the quality of life
[…] for Potter, bioethics is the ‘science for survival’.”
Peter Kemp, “From Ethics to Bioethics,”
Questioning Ethics: Contemporary Debates in Philosophy
(London: Routledge, 1999), p. 288.
“The Greeks had no single term to express what we mean by the word ‘life.’ They used two terms that, although traceable to a common etymological root, are semantically and morphologically distinct:
, which expressed the
simple fact of living common to all living beings
(animals, men, or gods), and
, which indicated the
form or way of living proper to an individual or a group
Giorgio Agamben, Ho
mo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life
(Stanford: Stanford UP, 1998), p. 1.
To constrain a person
in the context of infectious disease is
both to harm and to protect
, and the one cannot generally be separated from the other.
In submitting to or being subjected to constraints
like required immunization, restrictions on travel into areas of outbreak, or isolation and treatment,
a person is both violated and enhanced
by measures to reduce the overall spread of disease.”
Margaret P. Battin, Leslie P. Francis, Jay A. Jacobson and Charles B. Smith,
The Patient as Victim and Vector: Ethics and Infectious Disease
(New York: Oxford UP, 2009), p. 306.
"Us" or "Them"
“Are these people alive or dead?”
“We don't know.”
Dawn of the Dead
“There's a man. going 'round, taking names. And he decides who to free and who to blame.”