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作者 Kee, Chera Dezarae
書名 And the dead shall walk the earth: Zombies and the politics of death
國際標準書號 9781124787800
book jacket
說明 427 p
附註 Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 72-10, Section: A, page: 3560
Adviser: Curtis Marez
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Southern California, 2011
In October 2009, five pale, blood-stained teenagers sat on a curb in Newhall, California. They were not crime victims nor movie extras. Rather, these teens were "zombies," waiting to participate in a Zombie Walk. These events, where groups of people dressed as zombies lumber through the streets, have been happening globally since 2001 and entice up to several thousand participants for each walk. Zombies are familiar characters in comic books, video games, television and film, but with thousands of people dressing as zombies and taking to the streets, it becomes clear that the kinds of work zombies do in U.S. culture provides insight into how we approach death, try to diffuse its potency, and use it to make political interventions into everyday life. Zombies are critical repositories of social fears and desires related to capitalist wage slavery, race, gender, and the political power of the masses, and as such, they demonstrate how representations and performances of death, in widely different forms, have served remarkably consistent functions in the United States throughout the past two centuries
This project seeks to show that the zombie, as a creature of both/and----both slave and master, both living and dead, both black and white---i often positioned as that which invades the normative space of the living, a space that is generally conceived of in terms of whiteness, patriarchy, and heterosexuality. In forcing those who exist in this space to face a being who can encompasses both their ideals and that which their society rejects, the zombie can be used to try to support heteronormative ideals and the status quo while also undercutting those same ideals---often within the same text
Chapter one provides a survey of zombie scholarship and describes the history of the figure in U.S. popular culture. Chapter two places zombies in their historical context, considering their ties to Vodou belief and U.S-Haitian relations. Examining travelogues, magazine articles, and official documents about Haiti circulating in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the zombie is identified as one in a long line of figures used in debates surrounding dependent territories, self-rule, and the limits of U.S. democracy. Early film zombies thus come to symbolize the paradoxes of capitalist democracy in the United States and as such, offer a potentially liberating imaginative escape from dominant systems. However, this idealistic feature of zombies is restricted by racism in early zombie films
Chapter three considers how the zombie state in film is marked by race and gender, arguing that while the zombie can be terrifying, it also presents a fantasy of escape from white, heteronormative patriarchy. This fantasy state is often racialized, positioning blackness as more attractive than normative whiteness, and female characters frequently offer a point of identification with it. Many zombie films are therefore sites for staging conflicts over non-heteronormative desires, both promoting and punishing the transgressive and non-normative, often within the same text
The fourth chapter considers the connection between the spectator's relationship to images of death in 19th century presentations, like phantasmagoria shows and seances, to that same relationship in contemporary zombie video games. Arguing that certain visual technologies can encourage a sort of doubling of consciousness that empowers spectators/players, this chapter maintains that this empowerment, when placed in the context of representations of the dead-come-back-to life, allows spectators/players to enact desires that show death not as final, but as something that can be transcended, which ultimately robs the zombie of some of its inherent political potential
The fifth chapter examines Zombie Walks. These events present a contemporary example of death being introduced into the world of the living to unsettle assumptions of how public space should be used. Public performances of zombiness disrupt the normative capitalist expectations of the spaces in which "zombies" walk while simultaneously allowing walkers to reject Western beauty ideals by dressing up as rotting, ugly corpses. In this way, zombie walkers offer an important example of the contemporary carnivalesque
The final chapter of this project illustrates that while the zombie can stand as something that is both comforting and threatening, in either guise, it carries with it the potential of another way of imagining human society, and as such, it can represent the aspirations of any who feel that they are made over as slaves, cannibals, the infected, or the abject by their society's standards. Thus, often, in the form of the zombie, death is not only made attractive in U.S. popular culture, it is made politically useful as well
School code: 0208
Host Item Dissertation Abstracts International 72-10A
主題 American Studies
Cinema
0323
0900
Alt Author University of Southern California. Cinema-Television(Cinema Critical Studies)
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