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English instructors published for ‘Romancing the Zombie’

Photo credit: Stephanie Wells

“The thing we are most interested in is why all of a sudden is it ok to be falling in love with a corpse?” Jessica Richards, adjunct English instructor at Weber State, said.

Richards along with adjunct English instructor Ashley Szanter are being published for their series of essays that will be addressing the notion of why our society romanticizes the flesh-eating creatures we call zombies.

The title of the collection of essays as of now is called “Romancing the Zombie.” According to Szanter and Richards, the collection will contain between 11 and 13 essays, all of which they will be co-editing. Each essay will be addressing a different topic, but all relate back to the main idea of romanticizing zombies.

“We’re really, really early in this process,” said Szanter.

It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that Szanter and Richards were offered a contract by McFarland Publishers.

From there, Szanter and Richards have created a “call for papers” that provides information about the requirements of the essays. The two of them have been putting this document out to help bring in abstracts or summaries of potential essay ideas.

According to the two editors, all abstracts must be submitted before May 15.

“We won’t actually have the full essays in hand until September of this year,” Szanter said.

Richards said once the writers have submitted their summaries of what their essays will be about, the two of them will work with the writers to ensure that their essays are of the best work.

As of now, Szanter and Richards have a total of 5 abstracts. According to Richards, they are still waiting on quite a few more submissions.

According to the editors, all the abstracts that are accepted and turned into essays for the collection come from those individuals that have at least a master’s degree.

Szanter and Richards explained the requirements of the essays. The premises include “The romantic zombie as the result of genre exhaustion for both the traditional zombie genre as well as the paranormal romance genre. Have we taken zombies and paranormal romance as far as they can go without expanding the new ZomRomCom?” and “Address the romantic zombie in terms of generational disparity. Why does the romantic zombie tend to be a creation of newer generations (Millennials and their successors) rather the Romero-esque zombies of Generation X and Baby Boomers?”

Richards said the collection will be broad. “We are kind of trying to find the spaces in popular culture and zombie culture,” Richards said.

According to the two editors, this idea came from their background in what they teach at Weber. In her composition class, Szanter teaches about monsters, one of them being zombies.

Szanter explained that she shows the film “Warm Bodies” in her class. According to her, the whole premise of the film is that “Zombies are attractive, or they are supposed to be.”

“It weirds me out, because they’re dead,” Szanter said. She was confused as to why her students deemed this idea is ordinary.

Richards teaches generational studies. The two of them got together and concluded that it’s “Millennials” who are attracted to zombies.

“We sort of got to talking about to how this generation’s tendencies beliefs and ways of looking at the world sort of work really well with this idea of a romantic zombie,” Szanter said.

This idea then turned into an essay they both wrote together, which they presented at a conference. It received positive feedback, which then led to McFarland Publishers asking for a proposal from the two editors.

According to Szanter, the final manuscript will be sent to the publisher in March 2017. They both predict that the final copy will be in stores by next summer.

“I think we were tremendously lucky,” Richards said. Both feel very fortunate to have this opportunity and are looking forward to the collections release.

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