Zombies in Western Culture: A Twenty-First Century Crisis - cover image


John Vervaeke; Christopher Mastropietro; Filip Miscevic

Published On





  • English

Print Length

104 pages (viii + 96)


Paperback156 x 6 x 234 mm(6.14" x 0.22" x 9.21")
Hardback156 x 8 x 234 mm(6.14" x 0.31" x 9.21")


Paperback357g (12.59oz)
Hardback728g (25.68oz)



OCLC Number





  • JFC
  • JFCA
  • JFD
  • APF


  • PER004130
  • PER004030
  • FIC028070
  • REL062000


  • GR581


  • Zombies
  • popular culture
  • media studies
  • Western culture
  • apocalypse
  • alienation
  • crisis of meaning
  • cultural studies
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Zombies in Western Culture

A Twenty-First Century Crisis

  • John Vervaeke (author)
  • Filip Miscevic (author)
  • Christopher Mastropietro (author)

Why has the zombie become such a pervasive figure in twenty-first-century popular culture? John Vervaeke, Christopher Mastropietro and Filip Miscevic seek to answer this question by arguing that particular aspects of the zombie, common to a variety of media forms, reflect a crisis in modern Western culture. The authors examine the essential features of the zombie, including mindlessness, ugliness and homelessness, and argue that these reflect the outlook of the contemporary West and its attendant zeitgeists of anxiety, alienation, disconnection and disenfranchisement. They trace the relationship between zombies and the theme of secular apocalypse, demonstrating that the zombie draws its power from being a perversion of the Christian mythos of death and resurrection. Symbolic of a lost Christian worldview, the zombie represents a world that can no longer explain itself, nor provide us with instructions for how to live within it. The concept of 'domicide' or the destruction of home is developed to describe the modern crisis of meaning that the zombie both represents and reflects. This is illustrated using case studies including the relocation of the Anishinaabe of the Grassy Narrows First Nation, and the upheaval of population displacement in the Hellenistic period. Finally, the authors invoke and reformulate symbols of the four horseman of the apocalypse as rhetorical analogues to frame those aspects of contemporary collapse that elucidate the horror of the zombie. Zombies in Western Culture: A Twenty-First Century Crisis is required reading for anyone interested in the phenomenon of zombies in contemporary culture. It will also be of interest to an interdisciplinary audience including students and scholars of culture studies, semiotics, philosophy, religious studies, eschatology, anthropology, Jungian studies, and sociology.

Additional Resources

Watch John Vervaeke's entertaining off-the-cuff talks

Table of Contents



1. A New Zeitgeist

2. A Transition in Metaphors: A Brief History of Monster Zeitgeists

3. The Four Symbols of the Zombie Metaphor

3.1 The First Symbol: The Semiosis of the Zombie

3.2 The Second Symbol: The Name of the Zombie

3.3 The Third Symbol: The Failure of the Metanarrative

3.4 The Fourth Symbol: The Zombie Apocalypse

4. A Worldview in Crisis: The Domicide of Apocalypse

4.1 Grassy Narrows

4.2 Domicide of the Hellenistic Era

5. The Four Horsemen of the Zombie Apocalypse: Converging Evidence for a Crisis in Meaning

5.1 Death

5.2 Famine

5.3 Pestilence

5.4 War

6. An Introduction to the Genealogy of the Meaning Crisis

6.1 The Meaning that Was Lost: Three Orders of a Worldview

6.2 How the Meaning Was Lost: The Fall of the Three Orders

7. Conclusion




John Vervaeke

Assistant Professor at University of Toronto

Filip Miscevic


Christopher Mastropietro