Many schools and universities have recently incorporated the walking dead into their studies. From science and technology to engineering and mathematics, the living dead can enliven almost any curriculum and help to engage students. But the University at Buffalo may be one of the first schools to study the actual zombie phenomenon itself.
A Cultural History of the Walking Dead is a fifteen week seminar taught by English adjunct professor John Edgar Browning. Students will explore the historical and cultural impact of the walking dead by studying the West African and Haitian Vodou origins of the zombie before eventually tracking the creatures’ progression in popular culture.
The seminar will examine primary texts that detail zombie sightings in Haiti, along with horror and science fiction writer Richard Matheson’s “I Am Legend,” a book Browning credits as the creator of the modern zombie craze.
Browning will place a heavy emphasis on film as well, and plans to show George Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead,” a movie that he believes perfected the modern zombie.
“Horror films are cultural artifacts,” says Browning. “When anthropologists want to study cultures, they look at their artwork, bones and houses. You can easily do the same a thousand years from now by looking at films.”
The course will be offered through the American Studies department as part of the Undergraduate Academies’ Discovery Seminar Program. While registration is currently at capacity, the series has proven so popular that additional spots may soon be opened to students who wish to attend the lectures.
To learn more about A Cultural History of the Walking Dead including additional class resources and information on professor John Edgar Browning, please visit the original University at Buffalo news release online!