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Sarah Lauro, Zombie English Professor

March 11, 2013

Meg Kinnard of Asociated Press has profiled zombie researcher English professor Sarah Lauro (of Clemson but previously of UC Davis):

Researcher: Zombie Fads Peak When Society Unhappy

English professor Sarah Lauro says people are more interested in zombies when they’re dissatisfied with society as a whole.

See also Faculty Spotlight: Sarah Lauro: English Professor and Zombie Enthusiast by Meghan Kremp:

“This is English 212,” she began while passing out the syllabuses, “and throughout this course we will be discussing Life in Death and Death in Life throughout world literature.”

CBS Sacramento: UC Davis Study: Zombie Fads Tied To Feelings Of Disempowerment, Economic Turmoil:

“We are more interested in the zombie at times when as a culture we feel disempowered,” Lauro said. “And the facts are there that, when we are experiencing economic crises, the vast population is feeling disempowered. … Either playing dead themselves … or watching a show like ‘Walking Dead’ provides a great variety of outlets for people.”

But, Lauro pointed out, the display of dissatisfaction isn’t always a conscious expression of that feeling of frustration.

“If you were to ask the participants, I don’t think that all of them are very cognizant of what they’re saying when they put on the zombie makeup and participate,” she said. “To me, it’s such an obvious allegory. We feel like, in one way, we’re dead.”

Kinnard’s story also appears in other AP sources:
Washington Post: “Researcher says interest in zombies waxes, wanes to mirror societal dissatisfaction
USNews: “Researcher: Zombie fads peak when society unhappy
HuffPo: “Zombie Fads Peak When People Are Unhappy

Lauro also tweeted today that she sees the connection of zombies specially to “gross wealth inequality”. I am not exactly sure what her evidence is. Obviously they zombie walks were influential to Occupy and the themes overlap but I think it is reductive to say zombies are about wealth inequality – but then, I don’t even think Occupy was really about wealth inequality.

Lauro also co-authored a 2011 book on Zombies as post-human:

Issues of posthumanity and subhumanity are very important to zombie consciousness (recall UC Davis connection to Cyborg theory), also workers rights, and specifically to creative production in a digital age. Recall that Occupy was largely fueled by Anonymous on the internet. The issues of copyright and digital rights of makers and free speech. This is combined with overzealous neuroscience prediction we will merge with the machine. And we still don’t know how to deal with animal consciousness. See LATimes: Robert Kirkman explains ‘Walking Dead’ inconsistencies on ‘Conan’ by Meredith Blake – There are many issues deeper and more fundamentally essential than the wealth inequality.

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