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Title: The Emergence and Development of the Sentient Zombie: Zombie Monstrosity in Postmodern and Posthuman Gothic
Authors: Gardner, Kelly
Supervisor(s): Townshend, Dale
Foley, Matt
Keywords: gothic
homo sacer
world war Z
white zombie
Issue Date: 31-Oct-2015
Publisher: University of Stirling
Citation: Gardner, Kelly. "Zombie Survival Guides: Denying the Apocalypse." A Critical Approach to the Apocalypse. Ed. Heidi Yeandle and Alexandra Simon-López. Oxford: Inter-Disciplinary, 2013. N. pag. E-Book.
Gardner, Kelly. "Braaiinnsss! Zombie Technology, Play and Sound." Technologies of the Gothic in Literature and Culture: Technogothics. Ed. Justin D. Edwards. New York: Routledge, 2015. 71-83. Print.
Gardner, Kelly. "Reading and Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse." Imagining the End: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the Apocalypse. Ed. Thomas E. Bishop and Jeremy R. Strong. Oxford: Inter-Disciplinary, 2015. 185-208. Print.
Gardner, Kelly. "'They Are Not Men, Monsieur... They Are Zombies...': The Construction of Haitian Identity and the Work of the Left Hand." Tropical Gothic in Literature and Culture. Ed. Justin D. Edwards and Sandra G. T. Vasconcelos. S.l.: Routledge, 2016. 73-86. Print.
Abstract: The zombie narrative has seen an increasing trend towards the emergence of a zombie sentience. The intention of this thesis is to examine the cultural framework that has informed the contemporary figure of the zombie, with specific attention directed towards the role of the thinking, conscious or sentient zombie. This examination will include an exploration of the zombie’s folkloric origin, prior to the naming of the figure in 1819, as well as the Haitian appropriation and reproduction of the figure as a representation of Haitian identity. The destructive nature of the zombie, this thesis argues, sees itself intrinsically linked to the notion of apocalypse; however, through a consideration of Frank Kermode’s A Sense of an Ending, the second chapter of this thesis will propose that the zombie need not represent an apocalypse that brings devastation upon humanity, but rather one that functions to alter perceptions of ‘humanity’ itself. The third chapter of this thesis explores the use of the term “braaaaiiinnss” as the epitomised zombie voice in the figure’s development as an effective threat within zombie-themed videogames. The use of an epitomised zombie voice, I argue, results in the potential for the embodiment of a zombie subject. Chapter Four explores the development of this embodied zombie subject through the introduction of the Zombie Memoire narrative and examines the figure as a representation of Agamben’s Homo Sacer or ‘bare life’: though often configured as a non-sacrificial object that can be annihilated without sacrifice and consequence, the zombie, I argue, is also paradoxically inscribed in a different, Girardian economy of death that renders it as the scapegoat to the construction of a sense of the ‘human’. The final chapter of this thesis argues that both the traditional zombie and the sentient zombie function within the realm of a posthuman potentiality, one that, to varying degrees of success, attempts to progress past the restrictive binaries constructed within the overruling discourse of humanism. In conclusion, this thesis argues that while the zombie, both traditional and sentient, attempts to propose a necessary move towards a posthuman universalism, this move can only be considered if the ‘us’ of humanism embraces the potential of its own alterity.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation

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