Zombies in Western Culture: A Twenty-First Century Crisis

Zombies in Western Culture: A Twenty-First Century Crisis John Vervaeke, Christopher Mastropietro and Filip Miscevic
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Why has the zombie become such a pervasive figure in twenty-first-century popular culture? John Vervaeke, Christopher Mastropietro and Filip Miscevic seek to answer this question by arguing that particular aspects of the zombie, common to a variety of media forms, reflect a crisis in modern Western culture.
The authors examine the essential features of the zombie, including mindlessness, ugliness and homelessness, and argue that these reflect the outlook of the contemporary West and its attendant zeitgeists of anxiety, alienation, disconnection and disenfranchisement. They trace the relationship between zombies and the theme of secular apocalypse, demonstrating that the zombie draws its power from being a perversion of the Christian mythos of death and resurrection. Symbolic of a lost Christian worldview, the zombie represents a world that can no longer explain itself, nor provide us with instructions for how to live within it.
The concept of 'domicide' or the destruction of home is developed to describe the modern crisis of meaning that the zombie both represents and reflects. This is illustrated using case studies including the relocation of the Anishinaabe of the Grassy Narrows First Nation, and the upheaval of population displacement in the Hellenistic period. Finally, the authors invoke and reformulate symbols of the four horseman of the apocalypse as rhetorical analogues to frame those aspects of contemporary collapse that elucidate the horror of the zombie.
Zombies in Western Culture: A Twenty-First Century Crisis is required reading for anyone interested in the phenomenon of zombies in contemporary culture. It will also be of interest to an interdisciplinary audience including students and scholars of culture studies, semiotics, philosophy, religious studies, eschatology, anthropology, Jungian studies, and sociology.


Zombies in Western Culture: A Twenty-First Century Crisis
John Vervaeke, Christopher Mastropietro and Filip Miscevic | June 2017
104 | 13 colour illustrations | 6.14" x 9.21" (234 x 156 mm)
ISBN Paperback: 9781783743285
ISBN Hardback: 9781783743292
ISBN Digital (PDF): 9781783743308
ISBN Digital ebook (epub): 9781783743315
ISBN Digital ebook (mobi): 9781783743322
DOI: 10.11647/OBP.0113
Subject Codes, BIC: JFC (Cultural studies), JFCA (Popular culture), JFD (Media studies), APF (Films, cinema); BISAC: PER004130 (Film / Genres / Horror), PER004030 (Film / History & Criticism), FIC028070 (Science Fiction / Apocalyptic & Post-Apocalyptic), REL062000 (Spirituality)


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Authors
Acknowledgements

1. A New Zeitgeist

2. A Transition in Metaphors: A Brief History of Monster Zeitgeists

3. The Four Symbols of the Zombie Metaphor
3.1 The First Symbol: The Semiosis of the Zombie
3.2 The Second Symbol: The Name of the Zombie
3.3 The Third Symbol: The Failure of the Metanarrative
3.4 The Fourth Symbol: The Zombie Apocalypse

4. A Worldview in Crisis: The Domicide of Apocalypse
4.1 Grassy Narrows
4.2 Domicide of the Hellenistic Era

5. The Four Horsemen of the Zombie Apocalypse: Converging Evidence for a Crisis in Meaning
5.1 Death
5.2 Famine
5.3 Pestilence
5.4 War

6. An Introduction to the Genealogy of the Meaning Crisis
6.1 The Meaning that Was Lost: Three Orders of a Worldview
6.2 How the Meaning Was Lost: The Fall of the Three Orders

7. Conclusion

References
Index

* Erratum: On p. 3 the director of the film Shaun of the Dead was wrongly named as Zack Snyder. The correct director is in fact Edgar Wright.

Dr. John Vervaeke
is an Assistant Professor, in the teaching stream. He has been teaching at the University of Toronto since 1994. He currently teaches courses in the Psychology Department and the Cognitive Science Program. He has won and been nominated for several teaching awards including the 2001 Students' Administrative Council and Association of Part-time Undergraduate Students Teaching Award for the Humanities, and the 2012 Ranjini Ghosh Excellence in Teaching Award. He has published articles on relevance realization, general intelligence, mindfulness, metaphor, and wisdom. His abiding passion is to address the Meaning Crisis that besets western culture.

Christopher Mastropietro has completed a BA in semiotics, philosophy and political science at the University of Toronto. He has been working with Dr. John Vervaeke since 2012 to formulate and publish a response to the western Meaning Crisis with convergent insights from cognitive science, philosophy and other disciplines.  Christopher takes interest in the interaction of sacred symbols with the dynamics of self-presentation and identity, and how the effects of these dynamics in personal relationships relate to wisdom and self-transcendence.

Filip Miscevic
is currently a PhD student in the Cognitive Science Program at Indiana University Bloomington, studying under Dr. Olaf Sporns in the Computational Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory. He completed a BSc in cognitive science, neuroscience and computer science at the University of Toronto in 2015, where he was a student of Professor John Vervaeke. He is fascinated by how an understanding of the mind will revolutionize not only our clinical and scientific practices, but also our social and cultural ones–and in particular how it will come to bear on the Meaning Crisis discussed in this book, for which the zombie has become the flag-bearer.

Watch John Vervaeke's entertaining off-the-cuff talks Why are Zombies so Big Right Now? and Buddhism and Cognitive Science