Keep the following questions in mind as you read “Undead (A Zombie Oriented Ontology)” and watch The Walking Dead, Ep. 2. The questions are designed to guide your reading practices and our class discussions. You are not required to provide formal answers in class or online.
“Undead (A Zombie Oriented Ontology)”
What does Cohen say he thinks the ghost he saw in his dream wanted from him? OR, what is the “source of her wrath” (397)?
Why does Cohen not tell the story of the ghost very often?
What is your assessment of the “personal narrative” as a opening rhetorical gesture?
What is “speculative realism,” also called “object oriented philosophy,” and why is Cohen interested in this vein of philosophy?
For Cohen, what does the term undead name? Why is that a useful term for him? Why is that a useful term for us?
Why is Cohen interested in tracing the move from ghosts to zombies? OR, what is the answer to his question: “What is at stake in this material turn, this movement from cognition to consumption, from subjectivity and personhood to mere corporality, the human as yet another object in an object filled world?” (399).
Cohen argues that ghosts offer a sort-of intellectual allure and vampires draw us in with their cosmopolitan eroticism, so why have we given them up for zombies instead? What do we desire when we dress up like zombies and watch zombie shows?
What sorts of jokes does the CDC have regarding the zombie apocalypse? Why can’t the CDC, or really institution for that matter, protect individuals and civilizations from zombie swarms?
Why does our culture reroute such monsters through Children’s literature?
What are some reasons Cohen gives for the zombie’s “recent ubiquity” (402-404)? For instance, what to do the Paleo and Zombie Diets have in common, and which is greener?
What does Cohen mean when he says, “Monsters gain power through their invitation to participate” (402)? How do zombies challenge this convention?
Where does the word zombie come from?
How does the word zombie and the things it names figure, “the return of the injustices we quietly practice against people we prefer to keep invisible” (404)? First, what are the “injustices…we prefer to keep invisible”? How do zombies “figure” those injustices?
How do zombies function as allegories for both “the dehumanized who return,” as well as the “dominating ethos” (405), which produces and profits from dehumanization? How do zombies perform, in Cohen’s formulation, “every signification of the word ‘consumer'” (405)?
Why is battling zombies a “wild liberation” (405)? From what are we liberated? Or, how is killing zombies en masse a rejection of “the perishable flesh we hide from ourselves…[an attempt to destroy]…our own thingly existence” (407)?
How do zombies challenge the idea that human brains control human bodies? Or how does a show such as The Walking Dead, illustrate “the inhuman agency that resides in the pieces and substances that we totalize for a while into a body we call ours” (407)?
What is the “environmental aesthetic of the undead” (409)?
Finally, what does Cohen mean by “Zombie Oriented Ontology” (409)?
Why does Cohen wish we could have zombies without the apocalypse that usually goes comes with them?
The Walking Dead, Ep. 2, “Guts”
What purpose does the red bucket serve in the opening sequence? Does it lead the audience where you expect it to?
What’s your assessment of Lori and Shane’s affair? What purpose does it serve? Like Rick’s uniform, do wedding rings still signify if the institution that authorizes them, i.e. marriage, has been destroyed with the rest of civilization?
The main action opens with a “top shot” of the street where the show left Rick hiding in the tank at the end of the last episode. What sorts of comparisons does the descending shot establish? How does the descending shot illustrate some of Cohen’s claims, i.e. a comparison between “a body we call ours” (407) and “the objectional status of the body as a heterogenerous concatenation of parts, working in harmonious relation, or exerting their own will, or entropically vanishing” (47)?
What advice does Glen give Rick to escape from the tank?
Why does Glen trust Rick? Is it Glen Rick trusts or the technology through which glen’s voice is transmitted?
What moments in ep. 2, “Guts,” best illustrate the “wild liberation” (Cohen 405) of killing zombies? From what else are the characters “liberated” in this episode? What are some beliefs or behaviors from which the characters cannot liberate themselves?
Why is Andrea so upset with Rick when they first meet?
Why set the first half of the second episode in a shopping mall?
Why do you think the show runners stage the racism and white supremacy so explicitly? OR, what do the low angle shots of Merle, first at 11:45 and again at 13:05-13:30(ish), suggest? Why frame Merle out against the Atlanta skyline?
Is the zombie apocalypse really a post-racial society as Rick suggests? OR, do the zombies, more so than the racially motivated violence on the rooftop, figure “the return of the injustices we quietly practice against people we prefer to keep invisible” (404)?
How and why do Rick and the rest of gang attempt to preserve William Dunlap’s humanity or personhood (approx. 25:00)? Are they successful? How does William Dunlap’s corpse figure life after death?
Why doesn’t T-Dog save Merle? Why does Rick leave the decision to save Merle up to T-Dog? What’s your assessment of Rick’s decision?
What sort of ecologies do the characters in The Walking Dead inhabit? Are the characters in The Walking Dead more environmentally friendly after the zombie apocalypse? Could we ever have, as Cohen suggests, zombies without the apocalypse that usually goes comes with them?