Student Scholar Symposium Abstracts and Posters

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 12-5-2018

Faculty Advisor(s)

Eileen Jankowski


In modern media the notion of a zombie brings to mind the images of rotting flesh, a desire for flesh, and surviving in a desolate post-apocalyptic world. While zombies have certainly evolved into a niche genre separate from horror and science fiction, it is imperative that the origins of this modern-day phenomenon are explored and analyzed in an academic context. From the empty threats of the goddess Ishtar in ancient Mesopotamia to urban legends of former Haitian slaves, the foundation of zombie culture provides strong insight to humanity’s fear of losing itself to mere corporeal forms. Zombie culture is the ultimate symbol of mindless oppression and the preservation of human ethics in face of adversity. While the modern idea of a zombie entails the horrors inspired by George Romero’s infamous film Night of the Living Dead, there are cultural aspects and impacts that come from the walking dead that this presentation hopes to portray academically. The origins of Romero’s zombie come from former Haitian slave culture. With the horrors of slavery, it was believed that the worst possible fate for a man was to become a thoughtless body, unable to think freely and doomed to forever work under the torturous sun. This basis, a mindless form, is present in numerous mythologies. From here it is intended that these aspects of zombie culture among others such as cannibalism and the dead rising from beyond to terrorize the living shall be explored. With the foundation in place as history is examined, modern trends in zombie media will be examined and presented in an orderly fashion. It will be asked, how has humanity projected its own fears and frustrations onto zombie media? How has the idea of a zombie evolved from simple notions of human mindlessness and cannibalism?


Presented at the Fall 2018 Student Scholar Symposium at Chapman University.

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