This is a paper that I'm working on that may turn into a longer piece for my final.
Cohen, Jeffrey Monster Theory Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996
Zombies are not a new concept in terms of horror. In fact they are now one of the most iconic main stream horror monsters on par with Vampires. Yet strangely this mindless, shambling monstrosity encapsulates a higher degree of importance than many give credit. Their simplistic nature and overwhelming numbers hides the depth of symbolism these creatures actually represent. Jeffrey Cohen's "Monster Culture (Seven Theses)" article outlines various cultural exchanges between the concept of monsters and the society that surrounds them and in fact creates them. Zombies, being a part of this monster concept, fits into Cohen's idea/s "that history is composed of a multitude of fragments... [and that the] monstrous body [(zombies)]" (3) likewise fit into this cultural exchange. The seven theses will be briefly examined and shown how Zombies fit into Cohen's overall outline as well as point out where they may overlap.
Cohen begins with the idea that "the monstrous body is pure culture" (4). In this case the Zombies body can be viewed in a couple of ways. Their body that is falling apart can be indicative of a cultural decline in both morality and awareness (Zombies aren't known for their intellect. This leads into the secondary point which stems from the body and that is their bodies desire to consume. In essence the Zombie becomes a Marxist representation of our culture as a consumer/capitalist society. Our bodies need a never endless stream of consumer products; we voraciously eat yet are never satisfied. The consumer self gives way to the third thesis, that of 'category crisis'. The Zombies body defies the ability to adhere to one category. It is a binary, at once human and at the same time undead; both alive yet dead. The idea of 'zombie' violates scientific laws as we know it. In Zombie movies science breaks down because humanity breaks down. Yet where Cohen argues that monsters create a "third term... which questions binary thinking" (6), Zombies unify the multiplicity of humans by creating a new binary: Human/undead. Zombies then are the construct of normative binaries in order to function as a new binary of their own.