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What Zombies Say About U.S. Culture, Society


Natalie Wilson, professor of women's studies and literature, Cal State San Marcos



What: "Scary Stories: What do Horror Stories Tell Us About Ourselves, Our Society and Social Injustice"

When: 7 p.m. Thursday

Where: University Student Union, Ballroom at 333 South Twin Oaks Valley Road, San Marcos

Tickets: $5 to $10. Free for students. Buy online

From superheroes to ghosts and zombies — kids in costume will be taking to the streets this Saturday for Halloween.

Zombies have turned into the pop-culture monsters of the 21st century. Just when the fascination with the zombie show "The Walking Dead" peaks, there is another TV show, movie or zombie walk, that is drawing crowds.

Natalie Wilson, a professor of women's studies and literature at Cal State San Marcos and author of the book "Seduced by Twilight," said the stories of zombies reflect our fears.

“Horror texts and the monsters that populate them register our natural traumas,” Wilson told KPBS Midday Edition on Wednesday. “Horror is a key site where the idea of the other is explored — where certain people are seen as good and others are seen as bad.”

Wilson uses the 1968 movie “Night of the Living Dead” as an example that spoke of society’s fears. The movie tells the story of people trapped in a farmhouse that's attacked by zombies.

“It spoke profoundly to its time through the metaphor of the zombie,” Wilson said. “It came out in the era of Vietnam and civil rights.”

In the television show, “The Walking Dead,” another story is told.

“In ‘The Walking Dead,’ the humans, in ways, are depicted as far more monstrous than the zombies,” Wilson said. “They really speak profoundly to civil unrest.”

Wilson will give a lecture on the topic at 7 p.m. Thursday at CSUSM.

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