The Anthropocene and the Undead describes how our experience of an increasingly erratic environment and the idea of the undead are more closely linked than the obvious zombie horde signaling the end of the world. In fact, as described here, much of how we understand the anthropocene both conceptually and in practice involves undead entities from the past that will not die, undead traumas that rise up and consume the world, and undead temporalities that can never end. Fifteen original essays by cultural and anthropological experts such as Kyle William Bishop, Nils Bubandt, Johan Höglund, and Steffen Hantke, among others, study the nature of humanity’s ongoing complicated relationship to the environment via the concept of the undead. In doing so, The Anthropocene and the Undead sheds invaluable light on adjacent concepts such as the Capitalocene, Necrocene, Disanthropocene, Post-anthropocene, and the Symbiocene to trace real and imagined trajectories of our more-than-human selves into undead and undying futures.
Simon Bacon is an independent scholar.
Part I: Undead Identity in the Anthropocene
Chapter 1: (Un)Death of the Father: Self-Sacrificing Paternity in Modern Zombie Narratives
Kyle William Bishop
Chapter 2: Undeath, Theatricality, and the EcoGothic in DC Moore’s Common (2017)
Chapter 3: Maggie in the Necrocene
Part II: Undead Spaces and “Zones” of the Anthropocene
Chapter 4: The Uncanny Valley of the Anthropocene: Short Stories About the Undead Under the Brightest of Lights
Chapter 5: Mutants and Tourists: Horror Film, Sacrifice Zones, and Chernobyl Diaries (2012)
Chapter 6: A Panic on the 4th of July: Municipal Malfeasance, Mutation and Monstrosity in Barry Levinson’s The Bay (2012)
Rebecca Stone Gordon
Part III: The Anthropocene and the End of “Time”
Chapter 7: “Dying All the Time”: The Future as the Extended Present and the Zombification of History in the Anthropocene
Chapter 8: Avenging the Anthropocene: Returning the Dead to Life while Destroying the Planet in The Avengers Films
Kevin J. Wetmore Jr.
Chapter 9: “To Remember Forever to Forget”: Into Eternity and the Anti-Anthropocene
Kristopher Woofter and Mikaela Bobiy
Part IV: The Disantnropocene: Is Not All About Us
Chapter 10: “You’re Next!”: The Enemy Within and the End of the Anthropocene as Seen in Adaptions Of “Who Goes There?” And The Body Snatchers
Chapter 11: Non-Consensual Eco-sex: A Guided Meditation to the Permeable Membrane
Chapter 12: Back from the Dead: Tailings Ponds in the Albertan Oil Sands Mining Operations
Part V: The Post-Anthropocene, the Symbiocene and Undead Futures
Chapter 13: Post-Anthropocenic Undying Futures: The Ecocritical Dystopian Posthuman in Lai’s The Tiger Flu and Bacigalupi’s “The People of Sand and Slag”
Chapter 14: “Cause tonight is the night/When two become one”: Stranger Things, Parasitism, Assimilation and the Abject
Chapter 15: After the End: The Postanthropocene Future of Endzeit
The undead, in their many forms, have never been more popular and never felt more relevant than in a cultural landscape plagued by global pandemic and ecological disaster, making Simon Bacon’s Anthropocene and the Undead a timely analysis. Bringing together a dream-team of cultural commentators discussing representations of the Anthropocene and its demise across film, television, literature and theatre through the prism of the undead, this book offers a richly nuanced consideration of the fractured relationship between humanity and the natural world. The chapters are provocative, insightful and richly interconnected, inviting reflection and action.
There is a cascade of books examining the Anthropocene, but this collection stands out for its brilliant elucidation of the many ways the ‘undead’ represent a present era that is increasingly defined by humans’ impact on the planet. Expertly organized and contextualized by Simon Bacon, essays consider the ways in which the ‘undead’ figure identity, space, time, life, death and undying in the Anthropocene. Reading both cultural texts and material reality, the essays collectively illuminate how everything about life on Earth is becoming an ‘undying’ that is also, inevitably, an ongoing history of the evolution of life on Earth.