Anthropology and English literature major Krystal Chitwood said nothing she discovered in her research on zombies was what she expected. Aside from the popular scare factor of undead flesh eaters, Chitwood said everything she learned about zombies was a pleasant surprise.
After being intrigued by zombies becoming a social phenomenon, Chitwood began collecting data that was more interesting than she could have ever imagined. With her project titled, “Playing Undead: The Integration of Zombies into Popular Culture and the Creation of a Subculture,” Chitwood wanted to study zombie symbolism in today’s society. She discovered through interviews, conventions and readings that zombies have developed not just as symbolism but themes in society.
In her presentation, Chitwood explained new age zombies are shifting and challenging history and their popular culture. Originally being seen as slow risers from the grave that lack cognitive abilities, zombies are now viewed as realistic and scientific phenomenon’s that are infected by an epidemic disease.
The creation of “Zurvivalists” is another effect of modern day zombies. “Zurvivalists” are people who stock pile weapons and supplies in case of a zombie apocalypse. These zombie enthusiasts have even created a Zombie Apocalypse Insurance Company, in case those who survive the zombie apocalypse need coverage.
Another interesting trend Chitwood said was making fun of zombie characteristics such as their slow shuffle, inability to utter words and decaying, mangled figures. “I planned to look at the symbolism of the zombie, and this morphed into trying to find what the zombie actually is and means to zombie enthusiasts. The symbolism was no longer my focus, it just didn’t do them justice,” said Chitwood.
Other aspects Chitwood studied were how zombies developed throughout history, why they have been reintroduced into society, and different types of zombies. Since she made great contacts through her senior project, Chitwood hopes to continue her study.
Chitwood will be attending Pacific’s College of Education next fall and later plans to teach language arts and social studies at the middle and high school levels.