Zombies will soon invade a York College classroom.
The English and Humanities department is set to host a presentation and discussion panel about the cultural influence of the living dead.
Discussion topics will include "The Walking Dead" graphic novel and TV series and presentations from about 15 to 20 local faculty and students who will discuss zombie culture.
Zombie roots: Senior Heather Young, a professional writing major, is part of the symposium's organizing committee.
As philosophy professor Dennis Weiss' intern, she promotes the event and is a liaison between faculty members and students.
She said her interest in zombies first came from quirky characters in comic books.
"Strangely enough, though I've always enjoyed stories about monsters and the macabre, zombies really only won me over when I read books that featured unique, funny and, most importantly, endearing zombie characters," she said.
Her favorite zombie from Terry Pratchett's "Discworld" series is Reg, an undead revolutionary who becomes a police officer and fights for zombie rights.
"Reg made me appreciate zombies' potential to be more than just reanimated corpses. I guess you could say that I see
the human in the zombie, and the zombie in the human," she said.
But she's not too lovey-dovey when it comes to the living dead.
"Zombies are charming creatures, but I still enjoy killing them in 'Resident Evil' games," she said.
Sneak peek: In her organization of the event, she said she has had a sneak peek at the content of the presentations.
"Some are more philosophical, while others are more oriented toward pop culture, but they are all unique and creative," she said. "Zombies are fun to talk about, so I think that the zombie theme will attract attendees who might not ordinarily be interested in philosophy and the humanities."
Junior Phil Rearich, a professional writing major and film studies minor, will present at the symposium.
"My presentation is on how humans are actually worse than the zombies themselves in a zombie apocalypse," he said. "This idea can be traced back to the original 1968 version of 'Night of the Living Dead' up to 'The Walking Dead' franchise."
He said his interest is derived from his love of scary movies -- and zombies hold a special place in his horror-loving heart.
"I just like the fear, the anxiety, the idea of these undead creatures, ravaging the world, eating anything that is living," he said. "Human beings then truly become alive through their efforts to survive the zombie apocalypse."
He said a public forum that gathers people with similar interests is a good learning opportunity.
"It's great that there's an event where people, whether they are students, teachers or just people in general, have such love and admiration for zombies and present their own ideas," he said.
Rearich plans to dress like "The Governor" from "The Walking Dead" TV series for the event.
Digging for knowledge: Professor Weiss organized the event in response to the growth of the zombie industry in pop culture and academia. He has even taught a course at the college inspired by "The Walking Dead."
"Studying the living dead is just one of the things humanities majors do," he said, as the subject matter lends itself to philosophical debate.
He said presentation topics include if zombies are dead or alive and if their souls move on or not. He said moral challenges -- like what to do if someone you love becomes a zombie -- are also hot topics. He hopes to have a demonstration of zombie makeup at the event, as well.
The symposium will take place from 9 a.m. till 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 6. The event will be in Room 218 of the Humanities Center on the York College campus, 441 Country Club Road, Spring Garden Township.
The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Visit the symposium website at http://goo.gl/HPy7B for details.