Kyle Bishop, 40, now chairman of Southern Utah University's English department, said he was pleasantly surprised eight years ago when he applied to University of Arizona Ph.D. program in English with his dissertation proposal on zombie movies and the school approved his proposal, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.
"It's clearly now acceptable to study zombies seriously," he said.
Bishop said he has been called to give zombie-related lectures to groups in Hawaii, Canada and Spain. He turned his dissertation into a book, "American Zombie Gothic: The Rise and Fall (and Rise) of the Walking Dead in Popular Culture," which has sold more than 1,000 copies.
Christopher Moreman, a philosophy professor at California State University, East Bay, in Hayward, said he put out a call for a single volume collection of essays on "the Humanity of the Walking Dead" and "Cross-Cultural Appropriations," but he had to expand it to two volumes when he received more than 100 proposals.
Moreman said he created a course based around the theme, "Philosophy 3432: Religion, Monsters and Horror," and 55 students applied to receive one of the 35 spots.
Mark Bauerlein, an English professor and author of "The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future," said there is a "danger" when universities allow subjects like zombies to become prominent topics.
"They end up invariably turning their attention away from the tradition," he said, "the classics, the works that have survived the test of time."