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Underwater Basket Weaving Zombies

January 9, 2013

Jeff Peterson, Professor at Linfield College in HuffPo: “Is the Zombie Apocalypse the New Underwater Basket Weaving?“. Peterson is to teach a sociology course called “Impact of the Zombie Apocalypse on the Pacific Northwest” – “playing off a cultural phenomenon to get students in the seats” with a “method to the madness.”

zombie jeff peterson linfield college

The zombie apocalypse is the perfect tool against which to bounce these sociological questions. It decontextualizes the “problem” into something we can talk about. These conversations are initially hypothetical, and yet the actual realities are played out in front of us every day in the form of political or class divisions, sexism or prejudice against gays.

I don’t disagree but I do continue to worry about the effect of this decontextualization – are decontexualized humans, no longer human? It may be very useful to decontextualize for the purpose of motivating the conversation but how can we make sure real life situations aren’t shifted out of context?

Speaking of contextualization, see also Professor Peterson’s ratings at RateMyProfesor or his talk about the college’s adult degree program on YouTube:

Finally, note Peterson’s mention of “hot tub rashes” and consider pedagogical similarities to zombie epidemiology – and see Canadian University Press “Keep your germs to yourself!” by Sophie Isbister:

People at school cough all over the public computers, their germy mouth-spray infecting keyboards that countless other students have to use. Students walking the halls like zombies or plague victims, their glazed eyes darting back and forth, their feverish skin glowing like a beacon that screams “Infected! Infected!”


From → Academics

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