HSOC 141: A Zombie’s History of Medicine and Technology
University of Pennsylvania
From 28 Days Later to the Center for Disease Control’s “Zombie Apocalypse Preparedness Guide,” zombies express our cultural anxieties and how we deal with them. Many of these fears focus on our relationships with our bodies and the systems of knowledge and expertise that we use to know and control them. Using more than a century of “zombie culture” as a lens, this course surveys the history of western medical knowledge and practice from antiquity to the present, with a particular focus on the technologies that have been used to manage bodies. We will examine primary sources (including elite medical texts, patients’ accounts, and device advertisements) to examine the history of medical knowledge and medical tools, as well as read secondary historical accounts. This approach provides historical and anthropological context for zombie media, and it uses entertainment and cultural fears as a way to understand the concerns and experiences of historical figures – including patients, caregivers, and policy- makers – on their own terms.