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Friday, September 30, 2022

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The course content paired with the breadth of knowledge from each student's unique background transforms lectures into lively discussions.

Zombies at SDSU

Students study Zombies and the deep social issues that they portray in movies, books and video games.
By Chelsea Baer

Zombies, usually thought of as brain-eating creatures, are helping a class at San Diego State University analyze race, class and gender through the lens of zombie-related narratives.

English 626: Zombies in Literature, Film and Video, taught by Chicana and Chicano studies Professor Emily Hicks is a comprised of 15 graduate and undergraduates students.

In a classroom filled with students from varying majors such as English and history, students draw from different realms of knowledge to contribute unique perspectives and opinions during group discussions. Conversations include topics from American materialism to Haitian slaves, always relating back to zombies.

“The zombie metaphor can be applied to many areas of American life,” said Beau Bennett, a graduate student studying history.

The course content paired with the breadth of knowledge from each student's unique background transforms lectures into lively discussions.

Not all fun and games

“This class allows me to talk about zombies and video games in a serious manner,” said Sam Howeth, a graduate student studying American literature.

While Hicks guides the students with prompts and questions, she also enjoys being able to step back and watch as her students teach each other.

“Students become familiar with current approaches to social concerns of the Americas in the areas of literary theory, queer theory, geophilosophy, postmodernism, performance theory and Frankfurt theory,” Hicks said.

English senior Tonnetta Walcott brings video games and books from home to share with her peers. “Tekken” and “Left 4 Dead” are two of her favorite video games to point to when discussing race, ethnicity and sexism.

“Video games portray stereotypical flesh eating monsters.We talk about what is beneath the surface,” Walcott said.

Other interesting courses

Zombies aren't the only spooky subject students at SDSU are studying.

In English 527, Gothic and Horror classic films and literature are incorporated into the course content. Classic movies like "Dracula" and "Nightmare before Christmas" are shown during discussions on anti-Semitism, post-modernism and Marxism.

“My overarching goal is to facilitate a critical assessment of the text or film,” said English and comparative literature Professor Phillip Serrato, who teaches the 42 students in this upper division undergraduate course.

In Anthropology 242 Supernatural Cross-Cultural Perspectives, American Indian studies Professor Alan Kilpatrick and his students cover shamanism, the study of the self and witchcraft in their lecture which meets on Mondays and Wednesdays.

These courses spark students’ curiosity with their interesting content and hold their interest throughout the semester by teaching them to see the deeper, underlying messages in gothic, horror and zombie related literature and film.