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Abstract

Zombies are the soulless reanimated corpses of human beings; they wander the border between life and death, mindlessly obeying their carnal desires. Humans are always threatened by these unnatural abominations that relentlessly seek to satiate their hunger for human flesh. Recently zombie texts have made a rapid movement from the margins to the mainstream media, which indicates that audiences find some aspect of zombies very compelling. World War Z (WWZ) by Max Brooks is one popular zombie text that features a global apocalypse in which the “walking plague” infects millions of people and nearly causes the completecollapse of civilization. Subtitled An Oral History of the Zombie War, Brooks creates an alternate post-apocalyptic world wherein he has compiled the individual accounts of people with first-hand experience in the zombie war. In the introduction of WWZ, Brooks claims his book is an effort to maintain a narrative that would otherwise go unmentioned in favor of “clear facts and figures” used in official government reports (1). He argues that by ignoring the “human factor, aren’t we risking the kind of personal detachment from a history that may, heaven forbid, lead us one day to repeat it?” (Brooks 2). The recent boom in zombie apocalypse literature and movies would arguably stem from a cultural fear, a way to address the tensions and anxieties that undermine the optimistic American identity. In this essay I plan to explore howzombie texts reveal fears that are inherently American and why those fears are important, with a focus on WWZ.

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