I’ve become a little obssessed with zombies lately, thanks to a couple of recent calls for book chapters. A colleague and I were successful in our proposal for the first one, for a book called “Zombies in the Academy: living death in higher education”. We’ve proposed a chapter looking at VLEs and the zombification of learning and teaching in HE.
The very general thrust is that VLEs (such as Black(magic)board, and VOODLE) replace face-t0-face ‘human’ learning with undead digital teaching. These VLEs have rapidly spread across the sector (virally?) without being explicitly demanded by either teachers or students. The embedded pedagogy of these VLEs is restrictive and they offer a level of social control and conformity not possible with more traditional teaching practices.
In our chapter we have deliberately eschewed the Romero zombie (the brain eating hordes) and have gone back to basics, discussing the Voodoo zombie, as a cypher for racialised slavery, and in early films such as White Zombie and Plague of Zombies a critique of proletarian slavery. By doing this, and with the odd nod to the Frankfurt school’s critiques of capitlism, we hope to foreground how VLEs are being used as a tool for social control by post industrial capitalism, creating one dimensional men, and women.
Anyway in preparation for this chapter i’ve been watching a lot of zombie films and reading a lot about zombies. In order to leverage as much as i can from this i’ve recently proposed a further chapter for a similiar book on Monstrous Cultures where i hope to explore how the zombie has changed over time from Voodoo to Romero, and how the this shift (in particular the removal of the ‘master’) is politically significant (and disempowering). Fingers crossed on that!
There are a couple of zombie related sites out there which i should mention in case i’ve whetted anybody’s interest, and to help me keep track of them.
There’s the zombies in the academy blog, the zombie research society (Romero is on the advisory board). Margaret Twohy has written quite an interesting masters thesis about the evolution of the zombie from voodoo to virus. I’ve just finished reading Jamie Russell’s Book of the Dead, which i would thoroughly recommend to anybody interested in zombie films.