Professors: What is a topic, idea, theory or breakthrough related to your field of study that you find absolutely fascinating or feel very passionate about? Explain why.
[Spoiler alert: This article reveals events of “The Walking Dead,” Season 7.]
Watching “The Walking Dead” (“TWD”) has become a chore. Since Negan (played by Jeffrey Morgan) killed Glenn Rhee (played by Steven Yeun), the show just hasn’t been the same. This fact brings me some sadness since “TWD” was “must see TV” for me for many years. On the bright side, I’m now able to reclaim that hour or so a week to do more constructive things, like write this short piece for The Miscellany News (at least until “Game of Thrones” returns).
I began watching “TWD” in medias res, by which I mean to say I binged two-and-a-half seasons in one week so that I’d be able to watch the show in real time from the middle of the third season onward. What’s kept me watching all these years isn’t so much a love of zombies (and I’m shocked the sheer amount of campy violence didn’t run me away sooner). Instead, I kept watching because I spend a good bit of my teaching and writing life enmeshed in African-American narratives concerned with imagining how this will all end—this being the oppressive elements of American culture, politics and society.
It was “TWD”’s obsession with rebuilding human community post-zombie apocalypse that drew me. I’m most excited by the opportunity to imagine otherwise. Years into watching the show, after watching person of color after person of color, after watching Glenn’s demise, I’m newly reminded of the impossibility of mainstream media to free our collective imagination.
How do we world-build, and how do we free ourselves to imagine differently in this new world? How will memory hold us together or tear us apart? What is the role of hunger in all of our relations? And what does the “we” do with the “monstrous others” who simply want to “be,” too?
These are some of the animating questions for my thinking, research and writing.