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BOOK CORNER: Author analyzes outbreak narratives in new book

“Going Viral: Zombies, Viruses, and the End of the World,” by pop culture critic, writer, and educator Dahlia Schweitzer, explores the depictions of outbreak narratives in film, television and a variety of other media, putting them in conversation with rhetoric from government authorities and news organizations that have capitalized on public fears about this changing world.

The book was inspired by the author’s previous book on Cindy Sherman’s film “Office Killer,” in which she looked at how AIDS impacted the portrayals of intimacy in that movie. Each section of “Going Viral” explores a different type of outbreak narrative that corresponds to a specific contemporary anxiety: globalization, terrorism and the end of civilization.

Schweitzer is known to produce work that encourages people to think more critically about the messages surrounding them.

“I teach undergraduates and something that I notice a lot in the classroom is that even smart people often don’t think critically,” Schweitzer said. “It’s sort of like you just accept whatever the loudest message is and you don’t interrogate why you’re being told to do something or why you’re being told something is dangerous.”


Dahlia Schweitzer

Through looking at works such as “The Walking Dead,” “28 Days Later,” “Madame Secretary,” “The Blacklist,” and more, Schweitzer raises provocative questions about the significance of both public paranoia and those who profit from it.

In addition to being an author, Schweitzer teaches undergraduates at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Woodbury University in Burbank, and at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising. She lives in Los Angeles.

On Feb. 10, Schweitzer will discuss “Going Viral” at Skylightbooks in Los Angeles.

“Going Viral: Zombies, Viruses, and the End of the World” is available for $27.95 (paperback and E-Book) online and at all major bookstores.

 

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