Evolution Of Zombie Culture in the 20th Century

Evolution Of Zombie Culture in the 20th Century. Long before Americans sat captivated by “The Walking Dead” on Sunday nights, the creature known as a “zombie” has been evolving. The first appearance of the word “Zombi” occurred in 1697 in a novel entitled “Le Zombi du Grand Perou, ou la comtesse de Cocagne” written by Pierre-Corneille Blessebois. Blessebois was serving as an indentured servant in the colony of Saint Domingue (Haiti.) Blessebois does not clearly define his use of the word Zombi much beyond the idea of an evil spirit. However, we are able to realize from Blessebios’ publication that the Zombi was a very prominent character in Caribbean culture in the late sixteen hundreds. Murphy (2011) argues that Blessebois, as an indentured servant, was able to sympathize with the slaves of Saint Domingue, understanding their worries, troubles, and most importantly, their fears. During his servitude, Blessebois gained the reputation as a sorcerer, most likely practicing what is now known as Voodoo.

Evolution Of Zombie Culture

Just like the ever-growing horde in which the zombie travels, the popularity of the zombie in American culture has skyrocketed since its arrival in William Seabrook’s 1929 book, The Magic Island. 1 From the appearance of Nielsen-chart topping TV shows like AMC’s The Walking Dead, to critically acclaimed movies such as 28 Days Later, to zombie apocalypse themed 5k runs, it is evident that our fascination with the zombie is growing—and shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.2 For perspective, the number of zombie books published annually has quadrupled over the past decade.3 In 2013, the television ratings for The Walking Dead beat all other competitors airing in the same time slot—including Sunday Night Football.

Last Decade

In the last decade, there has been a resurgence of zombie culture due in part to zombiethemed video games, movies, and comic books. EC Comics published horror graphic novels in the 1950s, which featured, “rotting corpses of stumbling zombies”. These comics appealed to young people who were trying deal with the aftermath of Nazi death camps and the bombing of Japan, during WWII (Bishop, 2006).

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