Volume 5, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 2040-3275
  • E-ISSN: 2040-3283



This article positions Richard Matheson’s 1954 vampire novel I Am Legend in the context of a zombie lineage, closing the widely discussed gap between the vampire and the zombie in order to address the way in which Matheson’s vampires not only literally inspire the emergence of the modern zombie but moreover highlight the model of infection that came to define the zombie. By tracing binaries in Matheson’s novel – order/disorder, immunity/autoimmunity – this article considers how Matheson’s vampires reveal the implicitly violent order in the zombie’s disorderly infection. I Am Legend’s model of infection – its zombieness –underscores the relationship between the plague and the order it induces, as well as the self-negating violence inherent in that order. As they extend the lineage from vampire to zombie, the living dead here draw attention to the underlying theme of contagion that runs throughout the zombie narrative. This article therefore locates Matheson’s work not only in a pop-cultural domain but in a larger theoretical discussion of biopolitics and autoimmunity (via Michel Foucault, Roberto Esposito, and Jacques Derrida) in order to argue that the very state of living dead disorder emerges as a positive state in its relationship to the category of the autoimmune, and that I Am Legend rescripts the categories of ‘disorder’ and ‘living dead’ from post-apocalyptic to redemptive.


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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): autoimmunity; I Am Legend; Michel Foucault; Richard Matheson; vampires; zombies
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