Medical Humanities Colloquy 10

Title: The Biopolitical Zombie: Medicalized Selfhood in Twenty-First Century Political Fantasy

Date: 22/08/2022

Time: 18:30 – 19:30 IST

Description: For the last two decades, zombie narratives have dominated the popular horror genre in film and television. Often described as the ‘zombie renaissance,’ this period has also corresponded with a significant biomedical revisioning of the figure. No longer a supernatural or merely allegorical monster, the zombie has come to express our fears of novel pandemic disease, neurodegenerative conditions, disability, and ageing. Representing a threat to individual bodily health, in most works, the monster’s contagion also poses an existential threat to political order. This talk will explore how zombies in contemporary media reveal assumptions about political order, health, and our increasing faith in a biomedical representation of self.

Bio: Erik Larsen is Assistant Professor of Medical Humanities at the University of Rochester (USA). His scholarship and teaching focus on narrative medicine, biopolitics, and representations of health and disease in modern culture. He is co-editor, with James Martell, of Tattooed Bodies: Theorizing Body Inscription Across Disciplines and Cultures (Palgrave 2022). His essays have been published in Nineteenth-Century Literature, and Levinas Studies. A forthcoming chapter on zombies and biopolitics will appear in the Routledge Handbook of Health and Media (2022).