Going Viral: Zombies, Viruses, and the End of the World (Paperback)

Going Viral: Zombies, Viruses, and the End of the World By Dahlia Schweitzer Cover Image

Going Viral: Zombies, Viruses, and the End of the World (Paperback)


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Outbreak narratives have proliferated for the past quarter century, and now they have reached epidemic proportions. From 28 Days Later to 24 to The Walking Dead, movies, TV shows, and books are filled with zombie viruses, bioengineered plagues, and disease-ravaged bands of survivors. Even news reports indulge in thrilling scenarios about potential global pandemics like SARS and Ebola. Why have outbreak narratives infected our public discourse, and how have they affected the way Americans view the world?

In Going Viral, Dahlia Schweitzer probes outbreak narratives in film, television, and a variety of other media, putting them in conversation with rhetoric from government authorities and news organizations that have capitalized on public fears about our changing world. She identifies three distinct types of outbreak narrative, each corresponding to a specific contemporary anxiety: globalization, terrorism, and the end of civilization. Schweitzer considers how these fears, stoked by both fictional outbreak narratives and official sources, have influenced the ways Americans relate to their neighbors, perceive foreigners, and regard social institutions. 

Looking at everything from I Am Legend to The X Files to World War Z, this book examines how outbreak narratives both excite and horrify us, conjuring our nightmares while letting us indulge in fantasies about fighting infected Others. Going Viral thus raises provocative questions about the cost of public paranoia and the power brokers who profit from it.  

Supplemental Study Materials for "Going Viral": https://www.rutgersuniversitypress.org/going-viral-dahlia-schweitzer
Dahlia Schweitzer- Going Viral: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5xF0V7WL9ow
DAHLIA SCHWEITZER is an adjunct professor at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. She is the author of Cindy Sherman’s Office Killer: Another Kind of Monster.  Her website is http://ThisIsDahlia.com
Product Details ISBN: 9780813593142
ISBN-10: 081359314X
Publisher: Rutgers University Press
Publication Date: March 9th, 2018
Pages: 256
Language: English
"Schweitzer sets up shop at the intersection of culture, science and politics and demonstrates—with deep research and penetrating insight—that there are things far more menacing than viral threats."
— Jonathan Allen

"Going Viral contextualizes contemporary outbreak narratives in rich detail. Schweitzer's attention to context sets this work apart from others on the subject and does so in an utterly approachable way."
— Stacy Takacs

"A highly infectious read. Schweitzer's thought-provoking and meticulously researched account clearly outlines the relationship between the reality of viral threats and the Hollywood dramatization of the 'outbreak narrative.'" 
— Terry Matalas

"Going Viral promises to become a viral sensation. In this elegant, provocative and clever book, Dahlia Schweitzer tackles one of the most controversial and anxiety provoking fears of the twenty-first century: the disastrous end of the world, evoked by either plagues, infections, diseases or outbreaks. Full of knowledge and wit, Schweitzer's innovative scholarship is a joy to read. She is a trailblazer in transdisciplinary scholarship and helps us all better understand what will continue to keep us awake at night."
— Karen A. Ritzenhoff

"Dahlia Schweitzer is one of the world’s leading analysts of popular culture, in every conceivable manifestation. She is also one of our best writers: engaging, concise, yet alluring in the best sense. Going Viral takes on one of the questions of our time: the American obsession with sickness as a way of dealing with difference. Bravo!"
— Toby Miller

"Going Viral is an incisive and expertly-informed exploration of the anxieties that drive contemporary America; the fears of contagion that shape our public discourse, movie narratives and government policy.  Drawing with authority on both medical data and media theory, Schweitzer impressively tracks these concerns across recent history, tracing the dynamic between the diseased human body and the body politic, and examining key varieties of viral threat—from zombie plagues to terrorist cells—across fact, fiction and the porous borders between them. At a time when fears of cultural infection are used to justify the tightening of borders, the infringement of civil liberties and the building of walls, Going Viral is a vital guide to the politics of contamination and protection."
— Will Brooker

Going Viral: Zombies, Viruses and the End of the World event listing by David Cotner
— LA Weekly

"An interesting examination of why we are so obsessed with viral outbreaks, zombies, and the end of the world."
— She Treads Softly

Film Threat Going Viral excerpt
— Film Threat

"Zombies and Plagues and Bombs, Oh My! How hyperbolic outbreak narratives have infected our worldview—from media to the government" American Scholar Smarty Pants podcast interview with Dahlia Schweitzer
— The American Scholar "Smarty Pants" podcast

"The iZombie Podcast with Robin and Steph" interview with Dahlia Schweitzer
— iZombie podcast

The Gentlewoman interview with Dahlia Schweitzer ​by Richard O'Mahony
— The Gentlewoman

"Schweitzer puts together a very thoughtful and thought provoking look at the cross section between our world and the worst case scenarios we keep imagining." 
— Film Monthly

Fan Theory interview with Dahlia Schweitzer 
— Fan Theory

"Trump's border wall and 'The Walking Dead' have this in common: America's fear of the global apocalypse" by Noah Berlatsky
— NBC.com

"​Weekly Book List, March 30, 2018"
— Chronicle of Higher Education

"New Books Network" podcast interview with Dahlia Schweitzer
— New Books Network

"Colum McCann To Speak At Simsbury Library Event" article - Going Viral event listing 
— Hartford Courant

"​Grad student looks into epidemic of outbreak narratives in media" by Kristin Snyder
— Daily Bruin

The "X" Zone Radio Show interview with Dahlia Schweitzer
— The "X" Zone Radio Show

New Books Network - New Books in Popular Culture podcast interview with Dahlia Schweitzer
— New Books Network - New Books in Popular Culture podcast

— Wesleyan Alumni Magazine

"[Going Viral] brings welcome attention to [the outbreak narrative], as indeed does the outbreak narrative itself: it confronts its viewers with the tension between impersonal, unintentional networks and the human response in a world in which both the “human” and human agency are increasingly eroded by those same networks."
— Film Quarterly

Interview with Dahlia Schweitzer on "Inquiry," WICN.org
— "Inquiry" podcast, WICN.org

Art Center featured interview with Dahlia Schweitzer 
— Art Center

"A good primer for students just getting used to the idea that there is something more to zombies and apocalyptic plague movies than meets the eye."
— Science Fiction Studies

“Schweitzer's book is the clearest successor to [Susan] Sontag's essays that we have, but it takes Sontag's emphasis on the narratives of singular illnesses or viruses and broadens it to survey the metaphorics of virality, infection, and outbreak themselves--the locus of fear, anticipation, and knowledge about illness that predates and frames individuals' experience of illness and is the focal point of the narratives told about a complex array of phenomenon, from the AIDS crisis to the panic over Ebola, from the spread and threat of terrorism to the process of globalization, all culminating, it would seem, in the zombie renaissance of the 2000s."
— American Quarterly

"Schweitzer’s use of well-known examples of outbreak narratives, presented with ample background and context, offer entertaining avenues for her audience to engage with....Thorough scholarship."
— Western Folklore

"YOU DON'T KNOW DICK with Handsome Dick Manitoba" interview with Dahlia Schweitzer
— You Don't Know Dick podcast

"Well-researched and supported...Going Viral ambitiously goes deep into a network of factors contributing to a multimedia genre."
— Journal of Film and Video

Midnight in the Desert interview with Dahlia Schweitzer
— Midnight in the Desert

"Five Ways COVID-19 May Impact The Future Of Infrastructure And Transportation" by Rudy Salo
— Forbes

"Going Viral deserves attention as the first major booklength study of the outbreak narrative, a cultural form that has been afforded a surprisingly limited amount of scholarly study given its extremely prolific nature. Cinema has been imagining how infectious disease might wipe out the human race since at least the mid-1960s, so this is clearly a cultural form that is deserving of academic attention."
— Foundation

"Eastern Standard Radio - Chris Begley interview with Dahlia Schweitzer 
— Eastern Standard Radio

"Her book is a well-placed contribution for theorizing about the enormous contemporary popularity of films about pandemics and zombies, and her analyses are generally convincing....There are many pertinent insights here [and] this is a book that had to be written, and all things considered Schweitzer did an admirable job."
— Health: An Interdisciplinary Journal for the Social Study of Health, Illness and Medicine

"How Dealing With a Global Pandemic Can Change Outbreak Narratives in Future Zombie Media," by George Yang
— Bloody-Disgusting.com

"Campfire Stories with Dahlia Schweitzer: Black Dahlia, Haunted Houses, and True Crime"
— Scary Stories We Tell podcast

"Contagion” — Reinfection in the Year 2020," by L.A. Alfonso
— Vaxxers