31 Oct. Zombie Oriented Ontology.

Happy Halloween!!

Part I. Remote Classroom Instructions

For full attendance and participation for 31 October 2017, please complete the following
  • 1. Read Jeffrey Cohen’s “Undead (A Zombie Oriented Ontology) and watch Walking Dead, Ep. 2
  • 2. Watch the video lecture below
  • 3. Complete your assigned portion of the Collaborative Invention Exercise in your team Google Doc

Part II. Class Plan Video

The video covers the following topics:
  • 1. Housekeeping:Submission Stuff
  • 2. Overview/explanation of Cohen’s Essay
  • 3. Brief application of Cohen’s ideas to Walking Dead
  • 4. Overview of what to expect for Thursday, Nov 2

Zombie Oriented Ontology and The Walking Dead

I review the answers to the following questions during the video overview of Cohen’s essay:
  • 1. 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)? What is your assessment of the “personal narrative” as an opening rhetorical gesture?
  • 2. What is speculative realism, also called object oriented philosophy? How are zombies, and not ghosts or vampires, ideal expressions of this sort of philosophy?
  • 3. What are some reasons Cohen gives for the zombie’s “recent ubiquity” (402-404)?
  • 4. 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)?
  • 5. How do zombies challenge the idea that human bodies are subordinate to an idea of personhood or subjectivity? 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)?
  • Application: So what? How/why do Cohen’s ideas help us to read the Walking Dead in general and in terms of our course theme?

Part III: Collaborative Invention Exercise

Your final project teams are listed below. For this assignment, click on your name/team link, which directed you to a Google Doc. Please note you have each been assigned a specific freewrite question that asks you to apply Cohen’s terms/insights to Ep. 2 of the Walking Dead.


ENGL.F2 ENGL.N1 ENGL.D2
1. Briana, Josh, Ashna, Katherine, & Samantha 6. Prashikh, Faith, Malek, Giba, & Miguel 11. Chaudhary, Jack, Alex, Ethan, Seth
2. Kusona, Cami, David, Yotam, Morgan 7. Ian, Michael, Patrick, Shiva, & Branden 12. Quentin, Ashley, Patrick, Dzmitry, Michelle
3. Sahil, Jacob, Ben, Felipe, and Bianca 8. Noah, Peter, Seenam, Joseph, & Marisa 13. Emma, Ryan, William, Camille, Zack
4. Shruthi, Sara, Kendall, Elena, Megan 9. Heather, Samwel, Saige, Robert, Kristen 14. Nicole, Gabby, David Saiontz, Pavan, Nish
5. AJ, Kristen, Zoe, Liya, Bruce 10. Gabriella, Joshua, Kaitlyn, Lewey, Anastacia 15. David Huberty, Davis, Jacob, Benjamin, Rohan

RQ: Cohen & WD, Ep.2

Directions

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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RQ: WD, Ep. 1

Directions

Keep the following questions in mind as you watch TheWalking Dead, Ep. 1, “Days Gone Bye.” 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.

What happens in the “cold open”? What does the “cold open” establish?

Why does Rick identify himself as a policeman before we even know his name? Why confront Rick and the audience with a child zombie before anything else?

Why do you think Rick keeps his uniform on for the whole first season? If civilization has collapsed, does the uniform have any meaning?

What’s the difference between “men and women”? Why open with light switch discussion? How does technology establish the difference between men and women, between civilization and savagery?

Is the high-speed chase, and subsequent shoot out that lands Rick in the hospital, establish a point of comparison between life before the fall and life after?

How does the show figure the passage time, or rather how does Rick assesses how much time has passed when he wakes up in the hospital?

Compare Rick in his uniform to Rick in his hospital gown.

What tools does Rick use to make sense of and adapt to his changed environment?

How does the camera work communicate the scale of the disaster/infection/loss?

How do Morgan and his son, Dwain, tell the difference between zombies and people?

Does Rick give Morgan the gun knowing he will use it to kill his dead wife?

How does Rick promise to get in touch with Morgan?

Does the show equate Rick’s shooting of the half zombie lady with Morgan’s shooting of his wife?

Is The Walking Dead a southern story or just a story that happens to take place in Atlanta and south of Atlanta?

Who hears Rick on the CB? Where are they? Are you surprised?

How does Rick’s lone ride into the abandoned city and eventual clash with the zombie hoard provide a figure for our contemporary environmental predicament?

How does the show contrast Rick and the zombie hoard in downtown Atlanta?

Hist KL, Scenes 20-24

Directions

Keep the following questions in mind as you read The History of King Lear Scenes 20-24. 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.

Scene 20

What does Edgar say he sees when he looks down the cliffside (20.11-24), what he calls the “extreme verge”(20.25)?

How and why does Edgar “trifle” (20.31) with his father’s “despair” (20.31) in this scene?

Does Edgar “cure” his father (20.34)?

Describe Gloucester’s “fall.” How does Edgar “figure” his father’s fall? What’s your assessment of Edgar’s trick?

How does Edgar describe “Poor Tom” (20.69-73)?

Why do you think the characters are so transformed? Are they all “unnacomodated” now? Or are they all monsters or “ruined piece(s) of nature” (20.129)? Why does Shakespeare ask us to watch these transformations?

When Lear enters at 20.80 we haven’t seen him since Scene 13. How has he changed? How has he stayed the same?

How do the two old friends comfort one another?

Why don’t the women go outside?

Why does Edgar lie to his father again at 20.213-15?

How does Oswald die?

Scene 21

Why doesn’t Kent change out of his clothes when Cordelia asks him to, “Be better suited” (21.6)?

What treatments has Cordelia administered to her father?

How do Lear and Cordelia react to one another on their first meeting since Scene 1?

Scene 22

How does Edmund plan to solve his two girlfriend problem?

Scene 24

Review Lear’s speech at 24.8-19. What’s his plan for life in prison? How does he plan to bring the outdoors, in?

How does Edgar describe his final hours with his father? How does his description square with your reading of the play? What finally kills old Gloucester?

How do Gonoril and Regan die?

What good deed does Edmund plan to do before he dies?

How does Lear react to Cordelia’s death?

Who gets the last word in The History of King Lear?

 

 

RQ: Hist KL, Scenes 14-19

Directions

Keep the following questions in mind as you read King Lear Scenes 14-19. 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.

Scene 14

Why do Regan and Cornwall blind Gloucester?

Are Regan and Cornwall’s “revenges” (14.5) against Gloucester justified, why or why not?

How does Regan and Cornwall’s interrogation of Gloucester compare with the ‘mock trial’ scene that precedes it? What happens to the rest of the play if the mock trial scene is left out?

Scene 15

Why can’t Gloucester recognize his own son?

Contemporary environmental discourse is often carried on by people who don’t live and work with animals or complex ecosystems. Is Edgar part of this tradition? OR, what might an actual wandering, wildman have to contribute to conversations about environmental justice?

Scene 16

How does Albany react to the news that French forces have landed in France, according to Oswald?

What does gift does Gonoril joke she’ll give her husband (16.17-18); what gift does she give Edmund?

What accounts for Albany’s change of attitude toward his wife? Describe some of the criticisms he levels at her. How does Gonoril respond? Which character is most persuasive and why?

What makes humans into monsters according to Albany, or, perhaps, according to the play?

How does Cornwall die?

Scene 17

How does the [First] Gentleman describe Cordelia?

Who, or what, governs our fate according to Kent (17.33-36) How does his point of view on fate/nature square with his trajectory in the play?

Why does Lear refuse to meet with Cordelia according to Kent?

Scene 18

How does Cordelia describe Lear at the beginning of the scene?

What course of treatment does the Doctor prescribe for Lear?

Scene 19

What does Regan want Oswald to do and why won’t he do it?

RQ: Morton, “Critical Thinking,” 1-14

Directions

Keep the following questions in mind as you read Timothy Morton’s “1-14. 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.

  • 1. What’s ecology according to Morton?
  • 2. What does Morton mean by the “Ecological Thought”? What are some ways he defines the term? Are you ever satisfied with definition?
  • 3. Describe the organizational strategy of this chapter? How does it differ from the way Nixon and Clark set up their chapters?
  • 4. How/why does what Morton calls the ecological though disrupt time? What does he mean when he says things such as, “In some strong sense, the ecological thought rigorously comes afterward–it is always to come, somewhere in the future. In its fullest scope, it will have been thought at some undefined point” (3)?
  • 5. Why do we have to let go of “Nature” to have ecology?
  • 6. What does the term “Nature” describe according to Morton? Why is “Nature” a problem in his estimation?  
  • 7. What happens to the concept of personhood (or even species) when it expands under the ecological though? OR, what does Morton mean when he says that “The ecological though fans out into questions concerning cyborgs, artificial intelligence, and the irreducible uncertainty over what counts as a person” (8)?
  • 8. Why do “all artworks…have an irreducibly ecological form” (11)?
  • 9. What sort of interaction between the sciences and the humanities does Morton propose and why?
  • 10. Why doesn’t Morton talk abut “theory” more explicitly? Or, what choices do think he has made in this chapter to be more accessible to non-specialists?