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University Offers Class In Zombie Studies 118

Posted by samzenpus
from the brains-for-brains dept.
Young people at The University of Baltimore will be able to study the zombie condition thanks to the newly available English 333. Students in the class will watch 16 classic zombie films and read zombie comics. Instead of writing a final research paper they may write a script or draw storyboards for their own zombie movie. Unfortunately the class doesn't seems to cover brain appreciation.

*

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University Offers Class In Zombie Studies

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  • by tekrat (242117) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @12:35PM (#33509764) Homepage Journal

    It's clear from this class that Universities feel they need to cultivate ... MORE BRAINS!!!!

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by elrous0 (869638) *
      Actually, that's pretty smart thinking. When the zombies attack, they'll know the real brains are in the physics department. Meanwhile, the students in this class will be safely ensconced with a roomful of lazy slackers.
  • This just in: The best way to advertise your university is to offer some batshit-ridiculous course. *sigh*
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by RapmasterT (787426)
      It's just an English literature/writing class with a narrow focus on zombie fiction. It's not THAT big a deal, or even all that uncommon. Lots of schools have similar classes with focus in comics, sci-fi movies, golden age cinema, and even pornography. It's an effort to un-stuffy the traditional curriculum, but it's no less legitimate than "bible as literature" that most colleges offers. In fact, considering the zombie overtones of the Jesus mythos, it's VERY similar.
      • by Pharmboy (216950)

        Even in high school, I took at class called "Literature of the Super Natural". And that was in Texas.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by daem0n1x (748565)
        Can I get a degree on porn? With lab classes??? Where do I sign?
      • Lots of schools have similar classes with focus in comics

        True, but I bet they call them graphic novels.

      • It is a big deal. It is, in point of fact, a monstrous deal.

        In 1910, mathematics courses began realizing that even though complex axiomatic systems could never be entirely self-consistent, they could nevertheless be used to solve some interesting problems. Fast forward a few decades and this new math is being used to design computing systems.

        This may seem like no big deal, but it means that we're on the cusp of a new reality. We are being prepared for something. The recent news of BSE is a precursor to the

      • Zombie Jesus Saves!
      • by DeadboltX (751907)
        I agree, it is just an English lit class. I'm eagerly awaiting the "Zombipocalypse Readiness Training" course that teaches you how to identify the best common household products to use for zombie defense, as well as the most efficient ways to disable or take down a zombie. The class would of course cover basic first aid and how to identify if a wound was caused by a zombie, and if the victim is infected; it is also important to know how to properly handle an infected human who has not yet turned full zombie
      • by CaptDeuce (84529)

        It's just an English literature/writing class with a narrow focus on zombie fiction. It's not THAT big a deal...

        Not a big deal? We're talking freakin' zombies! Some brain dead soul modded the post interesting? ZOMBIES are interesting! Well, actually, not talking to one though. They're not good listeners and there's only one subject they want to talk about.

    • The problem is that the class seems directed toward zombie-related works of literature (I use the term loosely) and film. What we need is a class that helps prepare students for the coming zombie apocalypse.

      • by icebike (68054)

        The course is about writing screenplays for movies.

        That's putting english to work, in fields where those choosing this elective course might
        actually gain employment.

        The fact that they chose zombies means nothing other than
        a lot of characters don't need any dialog or acting skills.

        Its English. Its writing. The subject hardly matters.

        They've made it fun for the students, and that can't be all bad.

    • This just in: The best way to advertise your university is to offer some batshit-ridiculous course. *sigh*

      It isn't batshit-ridiculous though.

      There are tons of literature and film classes out there. They've all got various themes or focuses. I personally took a science fiction class. I've seen Stephen King classes and supernatural classes offered.

      What's wrong with a zombie-themed class?

      There's plenty of substance to be found in zombie movies. Sure, there's crap too, but I'd assume some effort is put into finding the good stuff. And a zombie theme will draw in students who wouldn't normally take any kind of

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by sesshomaru (173381)

        I studied a zombie movie in my modern drama class, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, an important milestone in German film and a chilling insight into the stress between authoritarianism and anti-authoritarianism in Weimar Germany.

        • by natehoy (1608657)

          I studied one that I strongly suspected was an attempt to turn us into zombies. A scratchy black-and-white version of Waiting for Godot.

          Actually, I got up and walked out half way through the movie. My instructor was not impressed, even after I told him that I got the point and decided to implement it for myself. I'm sure my shouting "He's not fucking coming! Ever!" on my way out didn't earn me any points either.

          I always wondered why they added the "ot" at the end of his name, though.

          • by glwtta (532858)
            I always wondered why they added the "ot" at the end of his name, though.

            At least according to Beckett, that's a specious interpretation of the meaning of the character's name. Especially considering that the play was written in French.
        • by extra88 (1003)
          Excellent film but it's not a zombie movie. Cesare isn't dead, he's a hypnotized sleepwalker. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cabinet_of_Dr._Caligari [wikipedia.org]
          • Yes, but on the other hand, Cesare is more like a classic zombie than the hungry dead of a Romero film, "According to the tenets of Vodou, a dead person can be revived by a bokor, or sorcerer. Zombies remain under the control of the bokor since they have no will of their own. " -- Zombie [wikipedia.org]

            Besides, the Infected from 28 Days Later are not dead, and that usually gets included in a list of zombie movies.

      • by Compaqt (1758360)

        What's wrong seems to be that, anymore, you have to have a college degree to be a cubicle denizen (office worker).

        When you have a guaranteed customer base, and they *have* to get a 4-year degree, and students are doing not much more than writing up glorified and expanded IMDB message board posts as essays and posting fanfic Youtubes, that's where the problem is.

    • by friedo (112163)

      Lighten up, Francis.

      One of my favorite classes in college was called Sci-Phi; it was all about philosophical and ethical issues in science fiction. We watched a few movies and some good Star Trek episodes, and also did a lot of reading (both science fiction and philosophers.) There was a lot of work (several essays plus a term paper) so it was not a Mickey-mouse course by any means. Courses like that, which are generally developed for fun by profs who really like their subjects, can be a lot more engaging a

  • by Zeek40 (1017978) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @12:48PM (#33509930)
    If they'd taught this class anywhere other than Baltimore they might run out of fresh corpses to zombify.
  • I see you have an English degree with a specialization in zombie movies... [burns resume]
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by EnsilZah (575600)

      I see you have an English degree... [burns resume]

      Fixed that for you.

      • Damn, you beat me to the punchline

        • My friends with English degrees work a variety of stellar service industry related jobs, you insensitive clod! Would you like your milk whipped in your crappe-frappe-whappe-chino?
  • by King_TJ (85913) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @12:52PM (#33509978) Journal

    As predicted, I already saw a bunch of comments on the original story with parents saying they'd be "angry if their kid wasted their money" on something like this, etc. etc.

    In reality, it all depends on the instructor and their willingness to teach useful material. I remember when I was in college, I took a "History of Rock Music" course that the vast majority of people joked about and blew off as one of those "underwater basket-weaving" type classes you'd just take for an easy credit. In actuality, the instructor was a PhD in music who didn't even like rock music very much. He simply realized that most STUDENTS did, however, so it was a topic that held a lot of interest to them. He warned us from day 1 that "if you're expecting this to be an easy, blow-off class, you may want to drop out now". It turns out, he went into considerable depth about the roots of rock music and showed us the links between aspects of contemporary rock music and other forms of music that came before it. We covered what was essentially outright theft of R&B or Soul music of the 50's and 60's, as white musicians redid the original songs as early "pop/rock hits" and compared the original works to the "covers" or "re-makes". We had to write detailed reports and present them in class, discussing artists we felt were significant to the rock music genre and justify that position with facts and details. Essentially, it served as a writing course, an oral communications course, AND a history course all in one, and I think most of us got a lot out of it. (I was playing guitar in a local band at the time, so it seemed like a relevant elective course to take. I left with a little bit better presentation/public speaking skills and an ability to listen to music more critically than before. Really not a bad course at all.)

    If the "in" thing is zombies, then great! Why not use it as a "hook" to get people in to a course that's going to teach them a lot about scriptwriting and the basic requirements for making a good movie? Again though, this could *easily* be abused too, if the wrong instructor is teaching it -- because the topic itself means very little. (Unless you REALLY believe the zombies are coming to take over the world -- you probably feel like learning about zombies is pretty pointless to spend college money on!) It's all about how the topic is used to teach something that goes beyond it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by mlts (1038732) *

      Knowing the right way to handle a zombie apocalypse may come in handy. Most people are quite unprepared, and will think someone murmuring "braiiins" is a political candidate canvassing the neighborhood for this election year.

      Plus, a class like this is always a nice thing to take for an elective -- everyone loves a cold one.

    • by chrisG23 (812077)
      There is a big difference between The History of Rock and Roll and an English class where you watch movies and read comic books about something in popular culture that has really no impact on it. And by impact I don't mean sales of books movies stickers t-shirts or whatever, I mean an impact like Rock and Roll had of being both a catalyst of social change as well as a reflection of it, and it can be studied in that context and give a student a greater idea about society. It really walks a line between anthr
      • by Homburg (213427)

        Why can't something that is a reflection of social change be studied in order to give students a greater idea about society?

        • by chrisG23 (812077)
          How is zombies being especially popular as a meme sort of thing in the last few years a reflection of social change? (I know it can be, but please provide the outline of an answer that could take an entire semester of college to explore, otherwise an entire semester of class on it seems like a waste, to me).
      • by Belial6 (794905)
        So, to paraphrase, "My pop culture is better than your pop culture."
    • by rwa2 (4391) *

      Yep... in college I took Freshman Writing Seminar classes on "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" (but most of the readings were really the on the medieval knights of the round table), and "Artificial Intelligence of the Matrix" (but really on the history of the strong / weak AI debate). Both courses pulled in plenty of ... interesting ... students.

      Need one on Trek [slashdot.org] :-/

    • by Vreejack (68778)

      They aren't supposed to go that fast... I'm calling zombie bullshit on that you know? i mean they're not supposed to run so fast" -Zoey, Left 4 Dead, a character who's backstory involved a lot of watching horror movies instead of attending classes.

    • by k8mnstr (1878042)
      Y'know, this would be a great way to learn about epidemiology and the way viruses are spread, all while wrapping it in a fun and enticing pretext; much like your professor did with the History of Rock Music course. Besides, having people aware of and preparing for the inevitable zombie apocalypse is never a bad thing.
    • by ruffled (1176397)
      I don't think it'll look good on paper though, seeing as University nowadays is all about qualifications and so on. Would you really want a course "English - Zombie Studies in the modern arts" on one of your transcripts when you're getting that job?
    • Well, no. The kids who will take that course will have access to scholars for a few short years and then, in most cases, never again. They should be reading Pride and Prejudice, not Pride and Prejudice with Zombies (as much fun as that is), while they have expert guides.
      • by icebrain (944107)

        And what would that gain them? Reading the old stuffy "classics" doesn't necessarily buy them anything that a zombie lit course doesn't. The goal of these general-level English/lit courses is to help you develop (or learn, if necessary) your writing, analysis, and critical thinking skills. These skills are more likely to be retained if the students learn them by applying them to something they find interesting rather than the same old boring stuff.

        I've taken both kinds of classes at the college level. T

    • This is almost exactly what Jonathan Shorr of the University of Baltimore was quoted as saying by BBC news [bbc.co.uk]. The students think they are having an easy course but in fact are "tricked" into learning something. I don't have a problem with this per se but surely not for adults. This is the kind of technique you use with young children who don't want to learn. If people at university don't want to learn (or can't learn without being hoodwinked) then they shouldn't be there.
  • Have some future ex-neighbors who would qualify for their study!
  • What the hell? Every single one of /.'s main-page articles of today have had spelling-and-the-like mistakes!
    • by kellyb9 (954229)

      What the hell? Every single one of /.'s main-page articles of today have had spelling-and-the-like mistakes!

      Give them a break! They went to the University of Baltimore!

    • by blai (1380673)
      Yeah well, you spell pretty bestest too.
  • Zettai Ryouiki!!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @01:08PM (#33510160)

    Well, given that it is a course numbered '333', it's really on half as evil as possible.....

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Abstrackt (609015)

      Well, given that it is a course numbered '333', it's really on half as evil as possible.....

      Given that zombies are only half as dead as we'd like them to be this makes perfect sense!

  • Amazing. Truly amazing. This will open a whole new area of social research; the behavior of zombies will finally be studied in detail and maybe, just maybe, hollywood will pick up the results and eventually come up with a zombie infestation that resembles reality.

    Though I don't think a whole family of zombies grunting at a television show makes up for a good action flick.

    • by Muros (1167213)

      just maybe, hollywood will pick up the results and eventually come up with a zombie infestation that resembles reality.

      And I thought modern Hollywood WAS a zombie infestation.

  • by drcagn (715012)
    My university (Louisiana State) is offering ENGL 2025: Zombie Fiction this Winter.
  • by Rick Bentley (988595) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @01:15PM (#33510244) Homepage
    While I was wasting time getting my Physics degree, just to see the whole tech space outsourced to India and China, these kids were getting the type of education they can count on. Skills like zombie-movie screenplay writing are a smart move in any economy, let's see them outsource that!
  • The classes will surely cover such parasitic species as Cordyceps Unilateralis [wikipedia.org] which alter ant behaviour to have some practical value behind it (how many credits that might be worth is another question - although this unleashes some interesting theoretical possibilities). Unless the course is about mastering the Thriller dance [youtube.com]. In any case - in scientia (vino?) veritas.
  • You either don't hang around here much, or you haven't been paying attention to the discussions around here if you have. I assure you, there are plenty of zombies running around here on a regular basis.

    I will go so far as to forecast that in three days we will have even more zombie activity than normal...
  • Grabage. If I wanted to watch 16 zombie movies, I would watch 16 zombies movies. If I wanted to write a screenplay about zombies, I would write a screenplay (and if it sucked, then hopefully I'd learn and the next one would be better). If I wanted to spend either my parent's money, or the taxpayer's money, or money own money in the form of student loans to hang out with the lame ass people that like zombies because its currently a popular meme and don't realize the only reason most people like zombies is be

    • by AndrewNeo (979708)

      Sooo.. if you had to take an English course, and this was one of your options, you'd rather.. not take the zombie-related course? I don't think I understand.

      • by chrisG23 (812077)

        I could be wrong, but I think only people majoring in English and related studies are required to take 300 level courses.

        If I had to take a 300 level course in a field I wasn't very interested in, I would take the class that seemed most interesting to me. In English, it would probably not be a zombies course.

  • by MikeRT (947531) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @01:28PM (#33510382) Homepage

    This sounds really cool until you realize that someone is actually going to get paid good money to teach students, most of whom will be going into debt to participate, a subject which has literally no value whatsoever to the market. The humanities and liberal arts are not training people in the classical curricula anymore (which actually DID teach them how to think) and instead are getting students 10s and even 100s of thousands of dollars in debt.

    This is probably one the harshest, but most accurate statements [blogspot.com] I've read about what this level of useless content paid for with debt is doing to the lives of students:

    The harsh reality is that a few years on the pole with a coke habit would still leave the average woman with a better long term prospect of happiness than the popular combination of student loans and a soft liberal arts degree from a reputable private university.

    • by gclef (96311)

      if you're looking for "valuable to the market", why are you going to college at all? Why not just go to a trade school? (Plumbers and electricians have much more stable positions, and a much lower unemployment rate than programmers...)

      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        My biggest beef with the OP's argument is its implicit premise that a university education should only train a student for a job. Nonsense!

        Yes, it would be nice to have a job waiting in one's field after graduating, but let's be honest with ourselves. Chances are, you will NOT have the same career in 5,10, or 20 years after college. And a liberal arts college can provide the education you need to adapt to changing times. (Did you attend an engineering school with crummy English or philosophy departments?*

        • Besides, who said "education" had to be practical? College is the one time in your life when you get to learn about things that genuinely interest you. Why not take advantage of it?

          Because there are real consequences to going $50k in debt to get an English or Art History degree. People graduating with six figure student loan debts from programs that don't reliably lead to six figure jobs have gotten pretty common.

          You know what that level of debt for a degree that provides no discernible practical job skills

    • Concurred; I'd have no problem with these kind of classes if the "scholars" were all well-versed (at least) in the Classics, History, and Philosophy prior to taking these courses. As a Liberal Arts student who specifically went (waay) out of my way to cultivate a Classical LA education, I find it despicable that anyone would waste time with stuff like this when there is enough time-tested literature to last a lifetime of traditional study.

      And before flaming, consider that I too took a class or two like
    • Go to trade school and be a plumber. Probably make more money than I do.

      University is for education not obtaining marketable skills. It just happens that in many places your not allowed to do something until you have a piece of paper to say your not a complete moron. Usually those come AFTER a normal degree to get a professional one, say doctor, lawyer, engineer, etc...

  • Stanford University's "Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP)" ( http://plato.stanford.edu/index.html [stanford.edu] ) has an analysis of how literature of Western Civilization has treated the subject of Zombies beginning with Descartes at http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/zombies/ [stanford.edu].

    If the course in question incorporates this level of discussion in the classes and homework and enable the students to improve their critical thinking and related analytical skills, it really doesn't matter if the "hook" to get students to t

    • by bbtom (581232)

      PROTIP: philosophical zombies != zombie-movie zombies.

      P-zombies would not differ from human beings - certainly, if you saw two walk past you on the street you couldn't tell the difference. On some accounts, you might be able to tell the difference if you had them wired up in a neuroscience lab. The zombies of philosopher's imaginations are quite different from the zombies of Resident Evil games (etc.): in fact, if p-zombies were like movie zombies, they wouldn't be very interesting in philosophy of mind (al

  • My mother scoffed when I took a course in college about fairy tales ("From Grimm to Disney"). I found it to be fascinating. Literature is literature, art is art. It's about the process, not the subject.
  • Seriously, any one taking 300-level English classes are an English major, which is one of the most useless degrees. This just prepares them for life after college. No money, no job, no skills. At least the zombies in Shawn of the Dead found jobs at Walmart, which is exactly the best-case scenario for English majors

  • Zombies have always been a prop. No different then a flashlight, car, or small fire burning in a trash can. Rarely in a zombie film are the zombies actually the story. Fido was one of the few that comes to mind. Zombies are a prop to remove civilization as we know it to explore a state of lawlessness, martial law, etc. Any pandemic really in a film is a prop or "object to further a plot" (a.k.a muguff, grif, etc.)

    Zombies are, in reality rather impractical by any conventional account. Take a piece of raw ste

    • by bbtom (581232)

      No, I'd say that part of what is scary about zombies is that a loved one might turn into a zombie. Suddenly, the hero's girlfriend becomes a zombie - or, worse, his own mother or father or best friend - and he is tasked with destroying this zombie version of a loved one who still seems to be in some sense living.

      Putting on my poncy lit-crit hat: surely, this shows that one cannot simply pine for some Lockean state of nature and imagine that civilization could just fall apart without it affecting you. (Liber

      • by kenp2002 (545495)

        But few, if any, that I can remember take the time to develop characters such that we see an emotional bond and that conflict arise. I don't see any zombie films where boy meets girl, massive drama, boy finally wins girl but only to have her turned into a zombie at the climax such that we can see and identify with the emotional stress of killing a zombiefied loved one. The closest thing I can think of was the original Night of the Living Dead with the little girl zombie in the basement. Even then the emotio

  • by Tablizer (95088)

    They should combine it with Modern Political Studies.

  • Well at least we know Jonathan Coulton will be on the music appreciation portion.

    http://www.jonathancoulton.com/songdetails/Re%20Your%20Brains [jonathancoulton.com]

  • I took a movie class that focused on Film Noir. The Spring semester of the class was going to be about Horror movies. Some friends took a literature class about science fiction. Focusing on a genre is a great way to dissect creative works and analyze the common themes as well as distinctions between works in the same genre.

    Using modern works is a great way to teach kids while keeping them interested enough to learn. The latter part is whats missing from many schools.

  • by peter303 (12292) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @03:16PM (#33512042)
    The students are pretty much zombies.
  • I don't have a problem with such courses. As others have mentioned many courses of these types have been offered before. However, I've experienced firsthand that some of these courses are very light on substance and are devised by a self-serving professor who has a personal interest in the subject. That in and of itself wouldn't be a problem at all if the professor is using the subject matter to convey a deeper lesson, whether that be social implications, influences within the film industry, cinematography,

  • by Anonymous Coward

    That's what the US higher education is turning into. Turn out as many diplomas for a price. We can have any crazy ole class that will get idiots to pay tuition for. Then we give everyone a diploma and leave em in debt. So that they can join the real world and realize that everyone else has one, and it only entitles you to work at mcdonalds.

  • Why not? It wasn't too long ago when someone wrote about a paper entitled "Mathematical Modelling of an Outbreak of Zombie Infection" around here.

  • by petronivs (633683) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @10:07AM (#33521020) Journal
    Does anyone else find it odd that this is a Junior-level college course in English, and the course is limited to zombie movies and comic books? If you want to study zombie movies, go to film studies. I can accept using zombie comic books, but few, if any, zombie comic books I've seen would qualify as quality literature. (Yes, some comic books do qualify as quality literature, just not those.) The real travesty for these students is that this course could actually be leveraging an interest in zombies to actually study good literature, like World War Z, the Zombie Survival Guide, the zombie Jane Austen books, and various fiction books from different eras in the evolution of the modern zombie. (The history of the zombie concept is quite the story.) Instead, they get to watch movies and read comic books.
  • Are they going to study real-life zombies like Welfare Zombies?

  • I wonder if the course covers the most famous zombie of all: Jeebus! If it's a study of zombie lit, does that means that it includes parts of the Bible that tells about Jeebus dying, and rising from the dead 3 days later with magical powers?

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