Friday, June 29, 2018

journal article: the faith of zombies in Burr Steers’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that art has the potential to disturb contemporary pride and historical prejudice.” This is the opening sentence of an journal article response to reviewer comments I have just (re)submitted. An opening sentence crafted in London and one I’m quite pleased with.

The article is titled “religious piety and pigs’ brains”:  the faith of zombies in Burr Steers’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

The role of art in both supporting and disturbing the status quo is especially significant for those alert to questions of justice and inequality. This includes the literary worlds created by Jane Austen, which need to be located in the economic realities of an expanding British Empire around the turn of the nineteenth century. In this paper I focus on contemporary popular culture readings of Jane Austen, in particular the trope of zombies in Pride And Prejudice And Zombies, published as a book in 2009 and turned into a movie by Burr Steers in 2016. Drawing a post-colonial reading by Jon Stratton, I argue that the presence of zombies illuminates the economic realities embedded in the British colonial project. I pay particular attention to religious themes in one scene of the movie where zombies partake of communion at the Church of St Lazarus, leading me to examine the biblical character of Lazarus in relation to ethical resources in responding to the injustices of economic inequalities. Scriptural texts used in a sermon preached at the Church of St Lazarus are read alongside sacramental theologies familiar in England during Austen’s era. The Exodus narrative and its invitation to a disciplined freedom, allow us to reflect ethically on systemic injustice. The presence of zombies in Steers’s film represents a post-colonial awareness. The zombies disrupt the social order and religious sensibilities of Austen’s world, demonstrating the ways in which religion and literature can both support and disturb the status quo.

Hours of work. Lots of learning. Very glad of help from friends and experts. Fingers crossed it sees the light of publishing day.

Posted by steve at 11:34 AM

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