The lack of research into the Zombie figure in popular literature is examined in this study in contrast to the sociological and film studies of the genre. The value of the Zombie literary figure is examined as an example of cultural discourse using Bourdieu s field of cultural exchange framework. A cultural studies approach is used to identify the value of examination of the relationship between consumer demand and the external cultural influences on consumer motivations. This is done through firstly examining the introduction of the Zombie figure into literary and public discourse, as well as to examine the cultural significance of the Zombie figure specifically and the horror genre as a whole.
In order to identify changing consumer demands a statistically valid sample of Zombie titles was captured in a bibliography using content analysis on epi- and paratextual elements of definition of the Zombie figure. The content analysis of the Zombie titles in the bibliography identifies several categories of Zombie figure, as well as identifies changing trends in the Zombie horror genre. The compiled bibliography of Zombie fiction represents the only such bibliography in existence that spans from 1921-2013.
The external cultural influences on the demand for Zombie horror literature will be juxtaposed with the prevalence and dissipation of moral panics. Conclusions on the influence of moral panics on Zombie figures are drawn through a juxtaposition of identified moral panics and the prevalence of Zombie categories. The representation of moral panics in the horror literature produced by a culture examines not only the expression of the dominant cultural ideology but also speaks to the creation of cultural artefacts within a culture. Furthermore, the application of the traditional journalism and social sciences related theory of moral panics to a wider mass communication landscape, such as popular fiction publishing, introduces a new avenue of research in readership and publishing, and speaks to the significance of books as cultural objects. This research can be applied by publishers and researchers to gain a deeper understanding of the socio-cultural landscape s influence on reader motivations. This study serves to identify categories of Zombies present in fiction, as well as to illustrate the applicability of moral panics to the publishing of fiction as a mass communication medium. The findings of this study will enlighten the publishing industry about the motivations of readers as well as suggest the possibility of predictive analysis of the marketplace.