Zombies in Springtime (2015)

Work in progress. Undead Allegory and Zombie Materiality. Diane Carr, March 2015.

Zombie bodies are obviously impaired and yet zombies are rarely analysed as representations of disability. In this paper, zombies, their problematic bodies, and the politics of disability will be explored in relation to The Last Of Us (Naughty Dog, 2013). Zombie’s peculiar suitability as digital game antagonists has been noted by game scholars (Krzywinska 2002, Perron 2009; Backe and Aarseth 2013).  There is a convention that persists across much of this literature (and zombie critique in general) that involves overlooking the corporeality of zombies while constructing, reiterating, normalizing and reifying metaphorical or allegorical readings (Smith 2011; Carr 2014). I am not interested in denying the allegorical or metaphorical potentials of zombies.  What I am curious about is the pervasiveness of this interpretive convention, and this convention’s apparent dependence on overlooking zombie materiality. What is it about disability as discourse that enables it to so thoroughly and graphically mark bodies as abject, while at the same time erasing itself in order to support allegorical readings? What are the implications for disabled and able-identified subjectivities? Here, the relationships between zombie critique, metaphor and allegory will be explored through Mitchell and Snyder’s work on metaphor and disability (2000); Shaviro’s work on zombie allegory (The Cinematic Body, 1993), and Shapiro’s recent work on death, the undead, and allegory in Marxist theory (Shapiro 2014).  Then, through a close reading of The Last Of Us, the critical and political rewards of taking zombies literally will be demonstrated.


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