ENGL 124: World War Z by Max Brooks
February 24th to March 7th 2014
○ “brought back” by slavemaster/puppetmaster to do bidding (ex. voodoo)
○ someone would drug people
○ no control, Night of the Living Dead (1968)
○ diseased (could catch this), slow, tattered, uncontrollable
● Very popular in literature and media: can be put in nearly every genre.
● Common in texts: idea of consumerism (capitalism, technology, etc.) as a zombify problem.
Bakhtin’s Theory of Dialogism
● Mikhail Bakhtin was a 20th century literary critic and philosopher from Russia
● Monologic (single worded), dialogic (double worded)
● Monologic text has a very strong central protagonist or narrator who speaks for the author’s
point of view (Ex. WWZ movie). It subordinates the voices of other characters to the
authoritative discourse and controlling purposes to the godlike author
● Dialogic (or polyphonic) has many characters that are more liberated from the control and any
particular point of view
● plurality, different perspectives, tend to question authority more, doesn’t let a practicular view
Basic Characteristics of Zombies
● Emotionless: lack of empathy, lack of fear, lack of anger
● Senseless: don’t feel pain
● Animalistic: only survival instincts, hunger
● Eat flesh/brains
● Lack of intelligence, physically slow (desire brains, don’t seem to have their own)
● Undead: brought back/reanimated (liminality in between), dead body, grotesque, rotting,
● Dehumanization: lack agency, soul/mind, lack emotions Symbolism
What reallife fears, anxieties, or desires do zombies embody?
● Technology: becoming zombies (pg. 204: Kondo Tatsumi, enveloped in technology)
● Loss of emotion, sometimes think emotion is useless
● Desire to survive
● Desire for a more basic lifestyle: zombies are emotionless, not materialistic
● Desire for people to come back = bad idea
● Are we really prepared for anything?: no cure, we think we’re safe from anything, but are we?
● Relation to natural world Zombies are unnatural or this natural force coming to punish human
● Sometimes in texts, disease/virus is developed by humans.
● Morality: revenge for treatment of earth, each other.
Why are zombies so appealing in movies etc.?
● obsession with supernatural, zombies just the next thing
● slow: not really scary at first
● One isn’t that big of a deal.
● Zombies are hard to kill, when human dies = more zombies; It can always come back
● Zombies create a common enemy, develop communities: threat to humanity brings people
What do zombies represent/symbolize?
● Bad parts of Humanity
● Communism: considered a disease
● Desire for Savagery: Zombies give us free reign to do whatever we want to them (Ex. killing in
video games; In the book: Quislings, line between Zombies and people blurs)
● Consumerism: consume everything, desire for everything.
○ Black Friday, Boxing Day: people will literally fight over material items
● Capitalism: this slow creeping threat of materialism, desire to have more, to be higher
○ something monstrous about this
○ Zombies work as individuals, just to get what they want, but sense of community →
Capitalism: if everyone works towards individual goals, society will thrive
○ Invisible Hand: Supply and Demand (as demand goes up, supply goes down, will
regulate self). Problem: Zombies don’t stop.
● Possibly of chaos being just around the corner.
● Community: Zombies still move in masses, all want the same thing. Also brings humans together
against common enemy.
● Morality: revenge for treatment of earth, each other.
Novel is an idea of corrective: revelation
● dematerialize, break down of political/ethnic/cultural divides
● end of communism, capitalism
● creation of community
Zombies are boundary crossers
● Zombie texts are “generically hybrid” (don’t fit a genre)
○ Ex. Shaun of the Dead: Romantic Comedy
● WWZ is a mashup
○ Horror Fiction, War Novel, (autobiography, history
● Pastiche : borrows the form (interviews), tone (triumph through struggle), and focus (everyday
people) from Terkel’s book
○ Intertextuality: when one text is deliberately formed by by another
Who usually wins in horror films?
● Usually a girl, “Last Girl”, usually innocent
What do we expect in History texts?
● Facts, firsthand/primary accounts
● Interviews, pictures, archives
● Something new, not in books
● Impersonal, objective, invisible narrator/historian
● Deals with Historical (Wars, disease, disasters)
● Language: uses straightforward text shouldn’t be too metaphorical/figurative.(again: invisible
What do we expect from historical fiction?
● Something Personal (textbooks etc. would be impersonal)
WWZ as History genre:
● eyewitness accounts
● Historic events
● Scholarly apparatus (footnotes)
● Retrospective NArration
Pastiche: empty parody, parody that isn’t humorous/mocking ● Clear language
● (in Introduction) desire to preserve past, pedagogical impulse, Historian is largely invisible
Social History/Subaltern History
● movement emerged in second half of 20th century
● linked with larger social movements of the 1960’s (feminism, decolonization, civil rights,
black power, counterculture)
● Challenged “conventional” historical content and method as they’d been practiced since the
● Key characteristics:
○ concerned with all kinds of human activity, not just war/politics
○ rejection of “great man” model of history
○ redefines what counts as “evidence: uses not just written documents, but oral sources,
superstition, rumour, etc. (vast majority of people in history have not been able to write,
by focusing on written texts, discounting certain cultures and many people.)
○ questions ideal of “objectivity: acknowledges that objectivity is not possible, so we
should acknowledge the position of the historian and their culture.
■ replaces objectivity with relativism: multiple versions, multiple “truths”