Scientific ethos and the cinematic zombie outbreak: Science in fictional narratives

Leah Ceccarelli


Public anxiety about emerging biothreats is evident in the recent glut of popular entertainment where the demise, or near demise, of humankind is imagined to be the result of a new infectious pathogen against which science has no existing vaccine or cure. This article examines the figure of the scientist in such fictional narratives and what these characterizations indicate about public attitudes toward science in our contemporary world. It focuses in particular on the image of the scientist as clumsy naïve, immoral experimenter, heroic savior, and self-reflexive ethical agent.


rhetoric of science; frontier of science; science fiction; viral pandemics; public attitudes toward science

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