Religion department to host ‘Zombie Apocalypse in American Popular Culture’

Kelly J. Baker

Zombies seem to be everywhere in American popular culture, from films and video games to books, television, Facebook — even Center for Disease Control announcements. On Oct. 10 at Florida State University, they’ll also be the focus of "There’s Us and the Dead: The Zombie Apocalypse in American Culture," a lecture hosted by the FSU Department of Religion. The guest speaker will be University of Tennessee faculty member Kelly J. Baker, an American religion scholar, noted author and FSU alumna (Ph.D. ’08, religion).

Baker’s lecture is free and open to the public and will take place:

4:30 P.M.

Baker’s presentation will explore the current American millennial fascination with zombies and zombie apocalypse in the genres of horror, science and speculative fiction, and fantasy, which depict reanimated corpses — the living dead — destroying the living while tearing down the fragile social contract between human beings. But, asks Baker, why are zombies more likely to bring about the end than other monsters, such as vampires or werewolves? Why are zombies bearers of the apocalypse?

From "Night of the Living Dead" and "Zombieland" to "The Angels Are Reapers" and Carrie Ryan’s "The Forest of Hands and Teeth" trilogy, Baker will chart the presence, proliferation and popularity of the doctrines of the living dead to showcase how and why zombies have become part of American apocalyptic fantasies and practice.

At FSU, Baker’s doctoral studies focused on American religious history. Her book, "Gospel According to the Klan," charts the history and presence of white Christian nationalism in the 1920s Ku Klux Klan. Her current project, "Zombies in America: A Cultural History of the Living and the Living Dead," identifies the intimate relationship between the monstrous, the monster (specifically the zombie), religion and nation in American popular culture. By examining the zombie in film, fiction and television, the book documents the popularity and the ethics of American apocalyptic visions in the 20th and 21st centuries, and calls into question distinctions between secular and religious millennialism in the larger American culture.

For additional information on the Oct. 10 lecture, contact FSU Department of Religion Chairman John Corrigan at (850) 644-8094 or