Bridges Lecture Series - Zombies: Monsters with Meaning

What is it that makes us so scared of, and yet so attracted to, the living dead? Why is it that shambling or sprinting corpses still retain such relentless power?

Before 1968, zombies began their pop culture career as living human beings controlled by a Voodoo master. Then, in one of the most tumultuous years in modern American history, a low budget horror film shocked the world with its tale of the reanimated dead shambling forth to feast on the flesh of the living. Night of the Living Dead redefined the concept of the zombie forever and gave us a new and indelible vision of horror: the greatest monster of all – us. Dr. Arnold T. Blumberg presents a whirlwind look back at 100 years of cinematic zombies and their evolution into a modern pop culture icon, with special attention to the ways in which Night of the Living Dead permanently impacted the media landscape.

Robert Smith? looks at zombies as a popular figure in pop culture/entertainment usually portrayed as being brought about through an outbreak or epidemic. Modelling a zombie attack, using biological assumptions based on popular zombie movies, he will introduce a basic model for zombie infection, determine equilibria and their stability, and illustrate the outcome with numerical solutions. He will then refine the model to introduce a latent period of zombification, whereby humans are infected, but not infectious, before becoming undead. The model is further modified to include the effects of possible quarantine or a cure. Finally, he examines the impact of regular, impulsive reductions in the number of zombies and derive conditions under which eradication can occur. Together Blumberg and Smith? will show that only quick, aggressive attacks can stave off the doomsday scenario: the collapse of society as zombies overtake us all.



Arnold T. Blumberg

Arnold T. Blumberg

Zombie Scholar/Media Literacy

Dr. Arnold T. Blumberg is the “Doctor of the Dead,” a world-renowned zombie scholar, co-author of Zombiemania: 80 Movies to Die For (one of the first exhaustive guides to zombie cinema that helped to define the parameters of what qualifies as a zombie movie), and author of Journey of the Living Dead: A Tribute to Fifty Years of Flesh Eaters, a comprehensive survey of 100 years of zombie cinema and the ways in which the genre has impacted the modern media landscape. Blumberg has appeared in documentary films as well as on TV, radio, and online, and taught a course in “Zombies in Popular Media” at the University of Baltimore that garnered worldwide press coverage and offered a fun way to teach students to think more deeply and critically about the media they consume. He has contributed chapters to Triumph of the Walking Dead; Braaaiiinnnsss!: From Academics to Zombies (edited by Dr. Robert Smith?); and The Undead and Theology (a Stoker award nominee). His zombie and horror podcast, Doctor of the Dead (, is available via iTunes and other podcast apps. He can be found on Twitter at @DoctoroftheDead.



Robert Smith

Robert Smith?


Robert Smith? is a professor of disease modelling at the University of Ottawa. Using mathematics, he studies infectious diseases such as HIV, malaria, human papillomavirus, neglected tropical diseases and zombies. He has published 15 books on academia and pop culture; is the author of almost 100 academic publications; is a winner of a Guinness World Record for his work on modelling a zombie invasion; was the winner of the 2015 Mathematics Ambassador award, given by Canada's Partners in Research association; and won the 2018 Society for Mathematical Biology Distinguished Service Award for exceptional contribution to the field of mathematical biology and its advancement outside of research.


Friday, November 8, 2019 - 7:30pm
Vanstone Lecture Hall, St. Jerome's University Academic Centre 
Sponsored by: 

St. Jerome's University

University of Waterloo, Faculty of Arts

University of Waterloo, Faculty of Mathematics

University of Waterloo, Faculty of Science



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