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Zombies, Biblical texts and 'The Walking Dead' have roles in new college course

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Jan. 23, 2014: In a photo provided by Central Michigan University Kelly Murphy, a philosophy and religion faculty member at Central Michigan University, stands in her office in Mount Pleasant, Mich. She is teaching a religion course this semester titled "From Revelation to 'The Walking Dead'" that explores biblical texts and apocalyptic themes in media. (AP/Christina Kurtz)

Some Central Michigan University students are getting schooled in the undead this semester, thanks to a religion course that's exploring apocalyptic themes in biblical texts, literature and pop culture.

Philosophy and religion faculty member Kelly Murphy says she always wanted to teach a course on apocalyptic literature, and she is a fan of AMC's TV show "The Walking Dead." The result is Murphy's class, which is called "From Revelation to `The Walking Dead."'

"Thinking about the end and imagining life in a different way is something that humans have always done," Murphy said in a university release.

Murphy's class will discuss biblical texts, review popular novels and watch clips from movies such as "Shaun of the Dead" and "28 Days Later." Students also will discuss hypothetical ethical and theological problems that people could encounter in a post-apocalyptic world.

"The prevalence of apocalyptic stories in various media gives us a window into what people are worrying about, what they hope for and how they imagine they would react in the face of a cataclysmic event," Murphy said.  "In the same way, we can read the Book of Revelation ... and learn what ancient Jewish and Christian groups were concerned about."

Kevin White, a senior from the Detroit suburb of St. Clair Shores majoring in political science and religion, said it is important to incorporate popular culture into classroom settings because it helps to give students a way to connect with subjects of study.

"Studying ancient biblical texts isn't most people's cup of tea," he said. "But, when you add zombies, it instantly becomes everyone's cup of tea."

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