CfP: Zombie and Pandemic Culture at Southwest Popular/American Culture Association Conference

Submissions Open September 1, 2020

Submission Deadline: November 13, 2020

For the 2021 Conference, SWPACA is going virtual! Due to concerns regarding COVID-19, we will be holding our annual conference completely online this year. We hope you will join us for exciting papers, discussions, and the experience you’ve come to expect from Southwest.

Proposals for papers and panels are now being accepted for the 42nd annual SWPACA conference. One of the nation’s largest interdisciplinary academic conferences, SWPACA offers nearly 70 subject areas, each typically featuring multiple panels. For a full list of subject areas, area descriptions, and Area Chairs, please visit

The area chair for Zombie and Pandemic Culture seeks paper or panel proposals on any aspect of the zombie and/or pandemics in popular culture and history. The zombie has always been pop culture’s premier allegory for infection and disease. 2020’s unprecedented events have put an even greater spotlight on the zombie’s ability to help us understand and process fears and hopes related to pandemics and uncontrollable societal events. Beyond zombies, however, pandemics and popular culture’s treatment of them—both past and emerging—are more critical than ever for processing cultural anxieties.

This area is looking for papers that will analyze any way that popular culture has attempted to process disease, infection, pandemics, zombies, or any combination thereof. How do we view zombies differently in light of the past year’s events? Will zombies remain a core allegory for understanding disease? Does the current pandemic change the way we analyze classic zombie films, books, and televisions shows? How will new zombie texts—and other popular art forms—emerge to tackle coronavirus? The zombie has come to represent the chaotic world we live in, and as our world changes, so too will zombies.

Some topics to consider:

  • New readings of older zombie texts in light of coronavirus.
  • How popular culture is beginning to process the pandemic, whether in film, song, television, video games, etc.
  • Specific zombie films: White Zombie, King of the Zombies, Dawn of the Dead, Tombs of the Blind Dead, Dead Alive, Evil Dead, World War Z, Train to Busan…
  • Specific books/zombie literature: The Zombie Survival Guide, Zone One, The Girl with all the Gifts, the Newsflesh trilogy, The Reapers are the Angels, Cell…
  • Zombie writers’ fiction and non-fiction: Stephen Graham Jones, H.P. Lovecraft, Robert Kirkman, Steve Niles, Max Brooks, Matt Mogk, Jovanka Vuckovic, Stephen King…
  • Zombie television: The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead, Z Nation, iZombie, The Santa Clarita Diet…
  • Zombie video games: Resident Evil, Call of Duty: Zombies, The Last of Us, Day Z, Dead Rising…
  • Zombie comics (any aspect: history, cultural impact, storytelling, Marvel zombies…)
  • Teaching the zombie or pandemics
  • The voodoo zombie and the historical roots of the zombie
  • What does the rise in the zombie’s popularity tell us about society?
  • These are just a few of the topics that could be discussed.

All proposals must be submitted through the conference’s database at

For details on using the submission database and on the application process in general, please see the Proposal Submission FAQs and Tips page at

Individual proposals for 15-minute papers must include an abstract of approximately 200-500 words. For information on how to submit a proposal for a roundtable or a multi-paper panel, please view the above FAQs and Tips page. 

SWPACA will offer registration reimbursement awards for the best graduate student papers in a variety of categories. Submissions of accepted, full papers are due January 1, 2021. SWPACA will also offer registration reimbursement awards for select undergraduate and graduate students in place of our traditional travel awards. For more information, visit Registration for the conference will be open and available in late fall. Watch your email for details!

In addition, please check out the organization’s peer-reviewed, scholarly journal, Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy, at

If you have any questions about the Zombie and Pandemic Culture area, please contact its Area Chair, Dr. Brandon Kempner.