Question: Richard Dawkins, in The Selfish Gene, asks, “What is it about the idea of a god [the god meme] that gives it its stability and penetrance in the cultural environment” (4)? In your essay, address a similar question: What is it about the zombie meme that gives it stability and penetrance in American culture?
Dawkins argues that, for genes and perhaps also for memes, the “qualities of high survival” are “longevity, fecundity, and copying-fidelity” (5). Define and make use of these key terms as part of an essay in which you employ Dawkins’ discussion of memes to analyze the historical and cultural significance of zonbies/zombies. In your essay, incorporate McAllister’s discussion of zonbies in Haitian colonialism; and Kyle Bishops’ examination of the “zombie renaissance” in American culture. In order to make your argument more concrete, please incorporate a close reading of at least one scene/gameplay vid/part from at least one piece of zombie fiction.
So a short sample outline for a rough draft might look something like this:
1. Memes, according to Dawkins, are [fill in the blank]. The idea of the zombie is a meme that is widespread in American culture. Dawkins says that meme spread widely when they are useful to people. McAllister and Bishop both argue that the zombie meme is useful because they do, in McAllister’s terms, “cultural work.” In this essay, we’re going to analyse [Specific piece of zombie fiction] in order to determine what kind of cultural work it does, in the context of American culture. Briefly, [Specific piece of zombie fiction] comments on American culture by doing [fill in the blank]. This helps audiences by allowing them to [fill in the blank].
2. According to McAllister, zombies have served as a metaphor for [aspect of American culture that zombies comment on, according to McAllister, that is most relevant to what you think [Specific piece of zombie fiction] is doing]. Insert analysis of scene from [Specific piece of zombie fiction].
3. According to Bishop, zombies (all movie monsters, really, but specifically zombies) serve to help people think about historical trauma. Insert either a) further analysis of the scene from 2 that connects it to historical events that would have been on people’s minds when the movie was made/book was written/game was made, or b) analysis of a different scene.
4. Connect 2 and 3 in order to say something about what use people get out of [Specific piece of zombie fiction]. Connect this back to why memes survive.