Lecture to explore fascination with living dead

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Faculty member will explain why we think zombies are to die for.

By Cassi Armstrong


Philosophy full-time adjunct Ryan Lozano has killed it for the last half decade with his seasonal lecture about zombies.

Lozano will present a fact-versus-fiction speech, “Halloween Lecture: Zombies,” at 1:30 p.m. Oct. 29 in Room 207 of Oppenheimer Academic Center. Students can wear costumes and snack on candy at the event.

Lozano started the zombie lecture five years ago when he began teaching on campus. Lozano since then has had a few other “out of the norm” lectures, with topics including witch hunts, Dante’s “Inferno,” trickster mythology and the devil.

So what is the zombie lecture about?

“The zombie lecture will approach our current cultural fascination with zombies from the perspective of separating out the pop-culture aspects found in media,” Lozano said.

Lozano, who also teaches philosophy of religion, health care ethics and world religions at the Alamo Colleges Central Texas Technology Center in New Braunfels, said our culture has taken a special interest in zombies and hopes to explain why this is happening.

This isn’t the first time people have taken a fancy to zombies; the origins of zombies go back to religions such as voodoo, Lozano said.

Voodoo originated around 1500 A.D. in West Africa, and the religion spread on slave ships, according to “The New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum,” an article published June 4, 2011, in Smithsonian Magazine. Although voodoo is not commonly practiced here, it flourishes in Haiti.

In voodoo, zombies are not really the undead, as portrayed in movies and TV. To create a “zombie,” a voodoo practitioner puts blowfish venom in the victim’s shoe, according to the Smithsonian article. Pores in the foot absorb the toxins, and the person falls into a coma that mimics death. The person is later given an antidote with powerful hallucinogens that cause the person to “awaken from the dead.”

Lozano said the zombie hype has gained momentum because of movies like “Shaun of the Dead” and “Zombieland.” Online games like Zombie Demolisher and board games like Zombie Opoly may also contribute to zombies’ modern fame.

Lozano hopes the lecture will enlighten students about the origins of the zombie myth and why this culture is thrilled by the idea of the walking dead.

Lozano said he wants to provide “possible explanations of the phenomena … as well as speculations as to what about it captures our interest.”

For more information, call Lozano at 486-0247 or email rlozano119@alamo.ed


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