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Transgressive Utopianism

Essays in Honor of Lucy Sargisson

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Edited By Raffaella Baccolini and Lyman Tower Sargent

In 2014, when Lucy Sargisson was promoted to professor in the School of Politics and International Relations, at the University of Nottingham, she became the first and, so far, only, professor of utopian studies. This choice symbolized the centrality of utopianism to her life, thought, and educational practice. In three books, each in their own way groundbreaking, a fourth book co-authored by one of us, and in important articles, her work falls into four primary areas: political theory, feminism, environmentalism, and intentional communities, with much of her work intersecting two, three, or even all four. And in all her work, she brings the lens of utopianism to bear on the subject and, in doing so, illuminates both utopianism and the subject at hand. The volume honors Sargisson’s contributions to the field of utopian studies, with contributions by Ibtisam Ahmed, Raffaella Baccolini, David M. Bell, Suryamayi Clarence-Smith, Chris Coates, Elena Colombo, Davina Cooper, Rhiannon Firth, Ruth Levitas, Sarah Lohmann, Almudena Machado-Jiménez, Dunja M. Mohr, Tom Moylan, Robyn Muir, José Reis, Lyman Tower Sargent, Lucy Sargisson, Simon Spiegel, Maria Varsam, and Laura Winter.

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“Trial and Error” – Mediating Estrangement in the Quest for Utopia in The Walking Dead (2010–Present)

LAURA WINTER

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Whether in novel, film or television series, the figure of the zombie is more popular than ever. Aditya Chakrabortty, for instance, argues that we even live in the age of the zombie: “Britain in 2018 is stalked by zombie ideas, zombie politicians, zombie institutions – stripped of credibility and authority, yet somehow still presiding over our lives” (online). The idea of the zombie permeates various socio-cultural reflections. In recent decades, the zombie metaphor is often evoked in regard to the pathologies of late capitalism because the causes for zombification have changed, as Céline Keller demonstrates in her audio-visual exploration of the utopian potential of zombiism: “what before could have only been summoned by magic, is now caused by something real” (online). Irrespective of its cause, the metaphorical potential of the zombie allows to depict the socio-cultural mood, society’s fears and anxieties: the mindless consumer, the anonymous mass, the impossible body.

It is with little surprise, then, that The Walking Dead has been celebrated as one of the most successful television series in history (cf. BBC News; Stolworthy, “The Walking Dead Remains”). The AMC channel has recently greenlit an upcoming third series in “the expanding universe of The Walking Dead” (AMC Networks). Ever since the pilot episode in 2010, the audience has been involved in the struggle of the fictional core group of survivors to manage life in a world inhabited by the “walking ←179 | 180→dead” after the outbreak of a virus. Soon it becomes clear that the...

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