Auburn lecturer publishes literary criticisms on the zombie genre

Literary criticism and zombies are two words not often found in the same sentence, but for Chase Pielak, the two go hand in hand.

“I think that zombies represent the real fears that we have,” Pielak said. “[Zombies] are real in the sense that they represent our fears of voiceless-ness and powerlessness and the loss of self-control, so these are the kinds of questions that interest me.”

This fall was Pielak’s first-semester teaching at Auburn where he taught two English composition one classes and two American literature classes.

Pielak spent his undergraduate years at Azusa Pacific University where he earned degrees in English and biblical studies. Pielak earned his master’s degree in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary. Pielak then went to Claremont Graduate University where he received his doctorate in English with a background in 19th century British literature and romanticism.

“I guess I’ve loved to read and write for forever, and English just made sense,” Pielak said.

Pielak said his theology and biblical studies degrees pair with his doctorate in English. He said his specialization in the 19th century helped give him an understanding and sense of the many biblical references present in the literature of the time.

“I ask my students to do a creative component with their papers in my lit classes, so they are trying to incorporate art, and doing all kinds of visual representations of texts,” Pielak said. “I think it helps tie together some of the things they see in the rest of their lives whether it’s a Disney movie or a movie about Wall Street, or whatever to the kinds of thing we’re talking about in class.”   

Pielak has contributed to several works in recent years including “Living with Zombies: Society in Apocalypse in Film, Literature, and Other Media”. In this work, Pielak and Alexander H. Cohen discuss how the rise of the zombie genre reflects…

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