Happy Halloween from UPK! Do you have your costume all picked out? Or are you still desperately looking for the perfect disguise? While it’s the holiday of ghosts and witches, zombies and vampires, some of these living-dead personas are more popular than ever.
From The Huffington Post:
Academics specializing in post-apocalyptic literature point to various cultural aspects, claiming that zombies indicate a culture of scarcity and an obsession with the end-times when resources will be depleted and the real-world can no longer meet our needs. Is it a coincidence that real zombies emerge from Haiti–one of the poorest countries in the world, where resources are not only scarce but often absent?
Similarly, vampires are often understood as symbols of repressed sexuality. Bram Stoker’s gothic classic, Dracula ignited a flurry of vampire spinoffs that are highly sexual without the sex. Critics of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series see a similar critique in the relationship between Bella and Edward; they must remain sexually pure or their sex will literally kill. Sexual purity (or lack thereof) goes hand-in-hand with the culture of scarcity critique; reproduction is not encouraged in a land of limited resources.
About Virtual Afterlives
For millennia, the rituals of death and remembrance have been fixed by time and location, but in the twenty-first century, grieving has become a virtual phenomenon. Today, the dead live on through social media profiles, memorial websites, and saved voicemails that can be accessed at any time. This dramatic cultural shift has made the physical presence of death secondary to the psychological experience of mourning.
Virtual Afterlives investigates emerging popular bereavement traditions. Author Candi K. Cann examines new forms of grieving and evaluates how religion and the funeral industry have both contributed to mourning rituals despite their limited ability to remedy grief. As grieving traditions and locations shift, people are discovering new ways to memorialize their loved ones. Bodiless and spontaneous memorials like those at the sites of the shootings in Aurora and Newtown and the Boston Marathon bombing, as well as roadside memorials, car decals, and tattoos are contributing to a new bereavement language that crosses national boundaries and culture-specific perceptions of death.
Examining mourning practices in the United States in comparison to the broader background of practices in Asia and Latin America, Virtual Afterlives seeks to resituate death as a part of life and mourning as a unifying process that helps to create identities and narratives for communities. As technology changes the ways in which we experience death, this engaging study explores the culture of bereavement and the ways in which it, too, is being significantly transformed.