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“The past haunts and is filled with our objections and is distant enough to seem grotesque.” – Christen Thompson

Even before Christen Thompson starts her presentation, there is a buzz of excitement in the air. Friends and visitors alike are eager to hear the words of this English Literature and Creative Writing major. At her first word, the room goes quiet and the audience is equally rapt with attention throughout her entire presentation, titled “The Grotesque and Apocalyptic Self: Ourselves and Our Ghosts.”

Christen speaks of famous authors and literary techniques with the ease of someone who has been around literature all of her life. Her presentation encompasses the newfound obsession with supernatural fiction set in the south, with a special note on its relation to the literary writings of Faulker and O’Connor. She starts off with an in-depth history of specific supernatural creatures such as zombies and vampires, tracing their origins back through history to a time of slavery and superstition.

With a clear, resonating voice, Christen informs her audience of “rational human characters” and how they react to “a reality out of their control” when supernatural beings are introduced into their lives. She examines several novels and television shows in order to make her point, including “Carmilla”, “The Walking Dead”, and “Vampire Diaries”. Near the end of her presentation is this statement, “If the zombie reminds us of our own decay, the vampire reminds of us our past.” Not only does Christen expertly describe the historical and cultural context of these supernatural aspects in society today but also manages to derive a philosophical aspect that forces us to think seriously about our culture and even human nature today.