New summer course on resilience during catastrophes in film

Photo Credit: English lockup with film reel
Wed, 04/15/2020 - 16:00

Contagion. Zombieland. It Comes at Night.

A new course for the second five-week summer session will study films that engage a range of pandemics, epidemics, and plagues, from historical circumstances such as cholera and AIDS to the hypothetical "zombie apocalypse."

English 269, "How to Survive a Pandemic: Cinematic Visions of Resistance and Resilience in the Viral Apocalypse", covers how films of the last five decades—action, drama, science fiction, horror, and documentaries—have envisioned and responded to catastrophic events.

"Each confronts events of planetary reach with similar ethical and political questions," Robert Lipscomb, a lecturer in the Department of English who will lead the course, said. "How do pandemics, epidemics, or plagues affect societies and their established communal rules and regulations? How and why do people make right or wrong decisions under such circumstances? How do pandemics influence and even transform our identities? How is 'civilization' to be saved? What do we learn and what do we lose in that struggle?"

Students will discuss what the filmmakers are saying and how they convey their meaning. Additional films in the course may include World War Z, Death in Venice, Train to Busan, The Living End, The Andromeda Strain, Angels in America, We Were Here, 28 Days Later, BPM, and 12 Monkeys.