Offbeat

Zombies101: The Undead Can Learn

A course in Zombie Studies has been launched for students (alive and dead) at the University of Baltimore. Believe it or not, the class is part of the English curriculum, although ways to get rid of these household nuisances are not covered in the class. You are on your own if you find yourself somewhere in a deserted farmhouse or field surrounded by strange beings with hollowed eyes and foaming mouths.

So even though you cannot kill these creatures, you can watch them on the screen and read comics or books featuring their gambols through villages with screaming peasants and rural terrain. The focus of the class is to uniquely analyze how literature and mass media work together.

Unique also is the ascertainment of credit and grading for this course, which comes in the form of writing a zombie script rather than exam essays. Instructor, Arnold Blumberg who is the author of Zombiemania said:

“The zombie functions as an allegory for all sorts of things that play out in our country. Whether it’s the threat of communism during the Cold War or our fears about bio-terrorism in 2010. It’s relatively easy to connect the zombie to what is happening in culture… To the zombie, our progress doesn’t matter at all…. They’re relentlessness, and the fact that they’re our own family and friends turning on us, says something profound about our society.”

Offbeat courses like this including Virignia Matzek’s unusual course on environmental studies, “The Joy of Garbage” that has been taught for two years at Santa Clara University, come at a hefty price; some $5,000 a pop. Learning the dynamics of physics by studying the flying tactics of Superman is another indication how college professors are being very creative as they vie for students who have an increasingly large selection of courses to choose from.

These course are fun, but they are far from easy, a fact which seems to surprise many who enroll. They represent a way to teach difficult subjects in an enjoyable way.

So, where’s the popcorn and what is that thing coming closer to our seats as we speak?

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