SIOUX CITY, Iowa – Briar Cliff University English and Writing Associate Professor Dr. Matthew Pangborn has recently published an article for the Journal of American Culture entitled “The Zombie Apocalypse Is a Failed Energy Transition.”
Pangborn’s article focuses on the “apocalyptic zombie” of American TV and filmmaking, starting with George Romero’s 1968 classic Night of the Living Dead. He theorizes that American obsession with the zombie apocalypse stems from anxiety caused by the failure of nuclear power to deliver on its promises of cheap, plentiful energy in the late twentieth century.
Historically, whenever America had transitioned from one primary resource to another—from timber to coal, and from coal to oil—its capacity greatly increased. However, this trend did not continue with the advent of nuclear power, which still accounts for only 20% of the nation’s electrical generation. From the oil shocks of the 1970s, through America’s subsequent use of nonconventional means to make up its production gap, Pangborn argues, the zombie has reflected worry over America’s energy future and nightmarish visions of resource scarcity.
The Journal of American Culture combines the study of American literature, art and history to analyze the historical culture of America. The journal publishes four issues a year with the topics of articles ranging from literary works to advertising campaigns.
Pangborn’s article will appear in the December 2018 issue of the Journal of American Culture.