Journal Article

The Zombie Saints: The Contagious Spirit of Christian Conversion Narratives

Sarah Juliet Lauro

in Literature and Theology

Volume 26, issue 2, pages 160-178
Published in print June 2012 | ISSN: 0269-1205
Published online February 2012 | e-ISSN: 1477-4623 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/litthe/frr059
The Zombie Saints: The Contagious Spirit of Christian Conversion Narratives

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Though the question ‘how is a zombie like a saint?’ may seem little more than a tantalising premise, a bit of whimsical scholarship that dabbles in unlikely syllogisms, the central interest of this parallel lies not in direct comparison of these disparate living-dead so much as investigation of a strange commonality of metaphors that they share. Though both the zombie and the saint defy the border between life and death, this article describes the way that each operates in a dialectical capacity concerning metaphors of colonisation and contamination. The zombie is simultaneously a figure for the slave (as we can trace its origins to Haiti) and slave rebellion: its morbid immortality connotes rebellion, and defiance. The zombie is at once a feeble corpse and yet, it nonetheless wields a subversive power. The martyred saints investigated here, St Denis and St Edmund the King, are each, simultaneously, stand-ins for the subjugated and the sovereign, the sick as well as the cured. These metaphoric categories overlap, informing and shaping each other. In the tales of the Christian martyrs, this works to represent conversion as capable of spreading like disease, of faith as a spiritual colonisation.

Journal Article.  8430 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literature ; Religion and Art, Literature, and Music

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