Unconventional course offerings at Hood: Zombie History

By Kristinia Southwell
Dr. Jay Driskell teaches his course “A Zombie History of the U.S.,” in which students explore the historical and cultural symbolism in classic zombie films.

Photo by Stacey Axler

Thanks to some unusual course offerings introduced to students this semester, Hood is making a national name for itself.

The college recently made the list of “22 Fascinating and Bizarre College Classes Offered This Semester,” in an online article picked up by CNN.com.  Hood was listed as #13 with “Biology of Jurassic Park,” but that is not the only offbeat course offered here.    

“A Zombie History of theU.S.,” a course taught by Dr. Jay Driskell, assistant professor of history, was offered for the first time this semester and has created a buzz among students. While the class does capitalize on the popularity of zombies, it also explores significant historical events.

Driskell, a self-proclaimed zombie movie fan, found inspiration for the course after watching George Romero’s classic 1968 zombie movie “Night of the Living Dead” this past summer and noticing that the plot works as a metaphor for race in the South.

“Zombies have been used as cultural metaphors to talk about slavery, imperialism, race, foreign peoples, fears of catastrophe, apocalypse, and armageddon … and those are things I have been interested in for a long time,” Driskell said.

The course features screenings of many popular zombie movies such as “28 Days Later” and “Shaun of the Dead,” but Driskell stressed that the class is not a “fluff course.”  

“It’s not just watching movies and fun,” said student Emily Goldstein.

Fellow student Ian Chalmers admitted, “It’s harder than I thought it would be.”

Driskell’s course aims to teach students “the tools of cultural history and our cultural language.” Courses that incorporate pop culture and contemporary trends “are useful in making the liberal arts relevant to things immediately around us,” said Driskell.

There are some downsides to unusual courses, however.

“There is no textbook really for a zombie history of theUnited States,” Driskell said. “I had to go pretty far and wide to find things that would tie this together into a coherent narrative.” 

Driskell hopes that the course will be a success and that his students learn something.  “It’s been a fun class so far,” he said. “I hope I get the chance to teach the class again.  I hope it’s not just trendy.”

College reflects on tenth anniversary of Sep. 11

 By Stacey Axler and Shelia Headspeth

Photo by Tori Peterson
Senior Sarah Morris put up flags on the quad last year for September 11.

Photo by Tori Peterson

Students and faculty alike expressed their thoughts and feelings regarding the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on Sep.11, 2001.

“I was in the fifth grade when it happened, and the whole event still seems very surreal,” said junior Ashley Birdsell.

“I just remember being bewildered that anybody could do such a horrific thing, but it’s amazing how the nation banded together,” said sophomore Kate Kopasek.

Reverend Beth O’ Malley dedicated her weekly Wednesday Interfaith service on Sep. 7 to the resonating emotions that lasted from the terrorist attacks.

“Our proximity toWashingtonmeans that so many members of our community were touched by those events either through their work, a connection to someone in or near the attack sites, or simply by watching the attacks unfold on the news and feeling the emotions that accompanied them,” O’Malley said.

To commemorate past anniversaries of Sep. 11, the Hood College Republicans and Democrats put up American flags on the quad to remind Hood students of the lives lost during the terrorist attacks.

This year, however, there was not an on-campus memorial because of a Frederick-wide interfaith memorial service planned by community faith leaders that took place inBakerPark.

Many Hood students took advantage of the campus interfaith service or the community interfaith service to memorialize the atrocities that occurred ten years ago.

“Everyone, when thinking about Sept. 11, remembers a different part of that day.  Many people want to share their experiences with others,” Reverend O’Malley said.