Prerequisites: General Psychology; up-to-date The Walking Dead viewing; a conversation explaining to Dr. Langley why you want to take this class.
Why all the zombies? What can a zombie apocalypse story tell us about real human nature? How does trauma change people, not only in terms of posttraumatic stress but also posttraumatic growth? When do severe circumstances bring out the best and worst in people? Who shows resilience or turns heroic? Are life’s most extreme troublemakers all psychopaths, sociopaths, sadists, or victims themselves? What does it take to stay human when humanity is hard to find? Aim for the brain!
The course uses psychology to look at The Walking Dead and related media, and it uses zombie media to teach psychology. Topics range from throughout psychology – including abnormal, developmental, personality, and social psychology.
introduction, ch. 1-7,
case files I-II
|Wednesday, February 17|
|Night of the Living Dead
viewing and discussion
with co-creator John Russo
|Wednesday, March 9|
foreword, ch. 8-14,
case files III-IV
|Wednesday, March 16|
|Spring Break/WonderCon||March 19-27|
|AURC||April, TBA (mandatory)|
ch. 15-19, case files V-VI
|Wednesday, April 22|
cumuluative plus ch. 19,
case file VII, final word
|Monday, May 9|
The schedule and other details in this syllabus may be subject to revision.
QUIZZES ON READINGS (40 pts. total). You will take a number of short quizzes over your assigned readings. There will be no makeup quizzes.
EXAMS (40 pts. total for regular tests + 40 pts. for final) There will be three 20-point tests plus a 40-point final. After I drop the lowest of the three tests, the remaining two will be added together for a total of 40 points. There will be NO makeup tests. Instead of allowing makeup tests, I drop your lowest test score. If you miss a test, then your 0 on that one will be the low score that gets dropped. The 40-point final is mandatory and cannot be dropped.
GRADING Half the grade will be for quizzes and exams. Half will be for assignments and participation. Test questions range in difficulty to get an accurate idea of exactly how much you know and understand about the course material. I do not feel it is right to establish a curve based on the highest grade in the class, in which case only one score would determine everyone’s grade. The scale on each 20‑point test (although bonus credit makes them worth more than 20) is half the scale you see below for 40-point assignments.
The grading scale for each 40-point assignment (e.g., your term paper) is this:
F <‑‑ 20.0 D 20.1 ‑ 25.0 C 25.1 ‑ 30.0 B 30.1 ‑ 35.0 A 35.1 ‑‑>
The Walking Dead Psychology: Psych of the Living Dead (2015), edited by T. Langley with foreword by J. Russo. New York, NY: Sterling.
On Reserve in Library
The Walking Dead Compendium One (contains comic book issues #1-48).
The Walking Dead Compendium Two (contains comic book issues #49-96).
The Walking Dead Compendium Three (contains comic book issues #97-144).
The stories in the third one have not yet been depicted in the television series.
The Walking Dead Wiki is a great resource maintained by many volunteers. You may use wikis as tools to find other sources, but always double-check anything you learn there and never cite a wiki because any troublemaker can edit them. http://walkingdead.wikia.com/wiki/The_Walking_Dead_Wiki
Join the Reddie Comics Studies group on Facebook, where we can share resources, you can help each other, and you might receive suggestions from former students, as well: https://www.facebook.com/groups/337187419715005/
Participation (40 pts.) A participation grade will be based on attendance, appropriate involvement in civil classroom discussions (contributing without monopolizing), and demonstrations that you know your assigned readings. It will weigh more heavily for people who don’t do what they’re supposed to do or maybe for some who participate exceptionally well. Read the things you’re supposed to read, or don’t take this class. Discussions can be fun and interesting if everyone has read the things we’re talking about. Discussions would be painful chores if you haven’t. Anyone who doesn’t want to read much shouldn’t take a course that analyzes fiction.
Analysis (40 pts.): Character or story analysis: Analyze a character or storyline by demonstrating how it illustrates specific psychological concepts, terms, and/or theories. I’ll provide examples. By midterm, you will draft a rough, sketchy, paper about him/her/it as analyzed up to that time. At the course’s end, you will turn in an APA style paper presenting your complete character analysis. You will present this paper’s topic at the Arkansas Undergraduate Research Conference which is held every spring at Henderson State University.
Other Assignments (40 pts. total)
There will be some other assignments. Most of them will be aimed at helping you with your character analysis project. Example: Completing an introversion/extraversion question for your character.
COURSE LEARNING OBJECTIVES
By the end of the course, the student should be able to . . .
1. Examine themes that are psychologically significant in stories.
2. Describe how fantastic fiction can be used in therapeutic, healing, or educational ways.
3. Describe what psychology says about stories and characters along with what those stories and characters say about psychology.
4. Tender examples of characters that embody different personality attributes and how they may illustrate theories of personality.
5. Describe examples of characters with mental disorders and be able to give examples of how the disorders were presented.
6. Describe what impact these stories can have on stereotyping in the area of culture, gender, ethnicity, criminals, victims, and the mentally ill.
7. Discuss how analysis of fictional characters and situations can enhance our understanding and application of psychology in the real world.
As a learning community of scholars, Henderson State University emphasizes the ethical responsibility of all its members to seek knowledge honestly and in good faith. Students are responsible for doing their own work, and academic dishonesty of any kind will not be tolerated. Violations of academic integrity include but are not limited to cheating, plagiarism, or misrepresentation of information in oral or written form. Such violations will be dealt with severely by the instructor, the dean, and the standards committee. Plagiarism means presenting someone else’s idea or writing as if it were your own. If you use someone else’s idea or writing, be sure the source is clearly documented. Other guidelines for acceptable student behavior are specified in the university catalog.
If your phone rings or vibrates loudly enough for your professor to hear it during class, every ring is a classroom disruption and can cost you points. If it rings once, make sure it does not ring a second time. Do not text or even look at your phone during class because that is distracting to others. Do not have your phone out at all. If you need to be on your phone that badly, then you need to be somewhere else.
During tests, your phone and any other items that can contain notes must be OFF and completely OUT OF SIGHT. If your phone, etc., is visible, that will be treated as cheating because too many students use those things to cheat. I do not have to confirm what was on your phone, etc.
You may not use laptops or other electronic devices to type notes during class because that is distracting and because, as you all know, too much students go online during class instead of paying sufficient attention.
Students with disabilities: Individuals who may need academic accommodation based on the impact of a documentable disability should contact the Disability Resource Center for assistance. For more information, visit the DRC website at www.hsu.edu/disability.
Henderson State University, “The School with a Heart,” offers quality undergraduate and graduate education to a diverse student body. As Arkansas’s public liberal arts university, we empower each student to excel in a complex and changing world.
All details in this syllabus are subject to correction and other revision.