RQ: WD, Eps. 3 & 4


Keep the following questions in mind as you watch The Walking Dead, Ep. 3, “Tell it to the Frogs” & Ep. 4, “Vatos.” 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.

Walking Dead, Ep. 3, “Tell it to the Frogs”

Why does “Tell it to the Frogs” open with Merle on the rooftop? What accounts for his turn from delirious chattering to savage act of will (sawing off his own arm)?

What do you make of the scene in which Lori, Carl, and Rick are reunited? Why do you think the show runners (or the comic creators, for that matter) chose to put the family drama at the center of the show?

Why do you think the gender politics are so explicit? Do you think the divisions and inequities around which Andrea and Ed fall out existed before the fall of civilization OR does the fall of civilization produce gender inequity? Does the show suggest that gender equality, such as it is, is a luxury that the survivors cannot afford?

When the men in the camp find the zombie eating the dead deer they beat the zombie to death. How does Darryl react to the way the men kill the zombie? How do Andrea and her sister react? Why do you think the men kill the zombie so savagely?

How does the sound editing add to the mood of episode throughout?

Why does Rick volunteer to go back into the city to rescue Merle? What do the rescuers find when they return to the rooftop where Merle was handcuffed?

Walking Dead, Ep. 4, “Vatos”

What did Andrea and Amy’s father teach them that they translate into survival skills?

Why or for whom is Jim digging graves at the beginning of the episode and how do the other survivors respond?

Why is it ironic that Shane tells Jim no one will hurt him as he puts him in arm lock and then ties him to a tree?

Who kidnaps Glen and how do Rick and the gang plan to get Glen back?

What secret are Guillermo and Felipe hiding? What is your assessment of Guillermo and Felipe’s ruse and how do the group of survivors in ATL compare to the group of survivors at the quarry?

Do the survivors navigate a changed urban landscape in a sustainable way? OR what are some benefits of the zombie apocalypse to both the environment and society? How could we produce the benefits to the environment and society portrayed (in part) in “Vatos,” but without the total collapse of civilization?


RQ: Cohen & WD, Ep.2


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


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


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


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: Hist KL, Scenes 8-13


Keep the following questions in mind as you read King Lear Scenes 8-13. 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 8

Does Lear cause the storm, or vice versa? What is the relationship between the storm and Lear’s “woman’s weapons” (7.435)?

Why does Shakespeare give audiences a report of Lear in the storm before we see him out on the heath?

What secret does Kent tell the First Gentleman in Scene 8? What surety of his story does Kent offer the First Gentleman?

Scene 9 

If you were staging Lear, how would you portrait the “Storm” in Scene 9? Why?

Whom does Lear address in the opening lines of Scene 9?

Is the storm magical? For instance, how is it possible, in Lear’s assessment, for the storm to “Find out their enemies now” (9.51)?

Compare the power Lear attributes to the storm in 9.50-60, i.e. the storm can discover who all the villains are even if they are wearing disguises, to 11.25-33.

Does the storm transform Lear, from a seemingly unsympathetic man to a deeply sympathetic one, OR,  is he another counterfeit exposed? Could you even, ever tell the difference between the two? If not, so what?

Do you agree that Lear is “More sinned against than sinning” (9.60)?

What ideas or emotions does the storm convey to stage and theater audience, as well as readers, that words cannot (11.6-20)?

Scene 11

What motivates Lear’s pity for Tom? Is Lear sincere? How can you tell and so what? Also, does it matter that Tom is really Edgar, disguised nobleman?

When Edgar describes Tom’s life before the hovel, is he telling the truth? If yes, assess his character. For instance, are you surprised he chose to take on the costume of a beggar?

If you were directing this play, would you have Lear take off all his clothes at “Unaccomodated man is no more but such a poor, bare, forked animal as thou art. Off, off, you lendings! Come on, be true” (11.96-99)? Why or why not? AND, can an actor really ever be naked on stage?

Where, or even how, do you think Edgar learned to curse?

What does Poor Tom eat? For what does his diet qualify him?

What, as Lear asks, is the “cause of the thunder” (11.139)?

Scene 13 

Where are they in Scene 13?

Is Lear’s condemnation of his daughters in the mock trial justified? What does he see when he anatomizes Regan?

Why does Tom/Edgar taxonomize all those dogs even as he disperses them?

Does Lear’s madness come from inside or outside?


RQ: Hist KL, Scene 7

Scene 7

What does Kent say that causes him to be put in the stocks? Does Kent accurately represent his encounter with Oswald(7.1-80) in his narration of events to Lear (7.204-23)?

How does Edgar “preserve” (7.172) himself after he flees his father’s house in Scene 6?

Assess the quality of Lear’s judgement when he says:

Fiery? The Duke?–tell the hot Duke that Lear–
No, but not yet. Maybe he is not well.
Infirmity doth still neglect all office
Where unto out health is bound. We are not ourselves
When nature, being oppressed, commands the mind
To suffer with the body. I’ll forebear,
And am fallen out with my more headier will,
To take the indisposed and sickly fit
For the sound man.–Death on my state,
Wherefore should he sit here? This act persuades me
That this remotion of the Duke and her
Is practice only. (7.265-75).

“Nature” and description of the nature world shows up throughout Scene 7. Do the different instances contradict one another? Can we say that all the references to nature and natural imagery add up to a theory of nature/natural world? Consider some of the following: 

Kent “Nature disclaims in thee; a tailor made thee” (7.51-2)

Edgar The country gives me proof and precedent
Of Bedlam beggars who with roaring voices
Strike in their numbed and mortified bare arms
Pins, wooden pricks, nails, sprigs of rosemary (7.179-81)

Lear Return to her, and fifty men dismissed?
No, rather I abjure all roofs, and choose
To be comrade with the wolf and owl,
To wage against the enmity of the air
Necessity’s sharp pinch. (7.364-68)

Lear’s speech at the end of the scene that begins, “O, reason not the need!…Or ere I’ll weep–O fool, I shall go mad!” (7.423-44)

RQ: Hist. of KL, Scenes 2-6


Keep the following questions in mind as you read  The History of King Lear, Scenes 2-6. 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 2

What sorts of words carry over from Scene 1 to Scene 2? Does Gloucester’s treatment of Edmund in the first part of Scene 1, for instance, account for his personality/choices?

What’s the gist of Edmund’s first speech? Are you persuaded?

There is a great deal of repetition in Edmund’s opening speech. How does the meaning of the repeated words or phases shift over the course of the speech?

How/why does Edmund trick Gloucester?vortigern-dragons

Summarize the contents of Edmund’s letter.

What steps does Gloucester want to take to ascertain if Edgar wrote the letter?

What’s the source of human behavior, or are eclipses bad omens?

Why does Edgar believe Edmund that Gloucester is angry with him?

Scene 3

Why does Gonoril want Lear to go stay with Regan? How does she plan to accomplish that goal?

Why does she phrase her plan as suggestions, instead of just ordering Oswald to treat her father and his retainers with negligence?

Scene 4

Compare the scheme that Edmund runs on his brother and father to the scheme that Kent runs Lear and his court. Do the means shape the ends? Does Kent serve Lear as honestly as before he “razed [his] likeness” (4.4)?

What are Kent’s qualifications for service? How do Kent’s qualifications compare with Oswalds’s?

What does the Fool tell Lear that no one else can and why?

How far has Lear a just right to think himself ungratefully treated?

We said that the division of the kingdoms results in a kind-of topsy turvey reality–how does the inverted

What idea of “nature” does Lear invoke at the end of Scene 4 when he curses Gonoril (264-280)?

Scene 5

What sorts of imagery does the Fool draw from the natural world to tease Lear?

What does Lear mean why he says, “I have forgot my nature/So kind a father!” (5.30)? Is he what he believes himself to be, i.e. a “kind father”?

Can you make the case that Lear looses his reason in this scene?

Scene 6

What evidence does Edmund offer Gloucester to support his claim that Edgar attempted to “Persuade me to the murder of your lordship” (6.44)?

To what cause does Regan attribute Edgar’s supposed attempt on Gloucester’s life?



RQ: Hist. of KL, Scene 1

Featured Image: CARN EUNY ANCIENT VILLAGE, Cornwall


Keep the following questions in mind as you read  The History of King Lear, Act 1, Scene 1. 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. Are the kingdoms already divided? If yes, so what? If no, so what?
  • 2. What is Edmond’s legal status?
  • 3. Why does Lear divide his kingdom? How does he decide which sister gets which portion of land?
  • 4. How much does Gonoril love her father? Does Regan improve Gonoril’s speech? Is it possible to love someone as much as they say they love their father? How much does Cordelia love her father?
  • 5. Does Cordellia take the contest for the biggest portion of the kingdom too seriously? Does she transform the plot from comedy to tragedy? What is she saying no to?
  • 6. What sort of test proves love? Is the entirety of the play a love test? If yes, does the ‘game’ undermine the play’s seriousness?
  • 7. What are some consequences of Lear’s curse (1.100-12)?
  • 8. What does Kent mean when he says, “Think’st thou that duty shall have dread to speak/When power to flattery bows?” (1.136-7). Is Kent out of line? Does he misread and misspeak in court? Or, are his criticism warranted?
  • 9. Does Lear do Cordelia a favor by disowning her?
  • 10. Why does Lear give everyone in his kingdom so much latitude to choose their futures?
  • 11. By what right does Lear divide and dispense land? Is it even possible for him to do so, or is it a symptom of his growing madness?

RQ: Morton, “Critical Thinking,” 1-14


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?
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