Publication Date

Spring 2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Christopher T. White, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Jason Zingsheim, Ph. D.

Third Advisor

Rosemary Johnsen, Ph.D.


Explored in this work are three texts: Cormac McCarthy’s novel, The Road; Douglas Coupland’s novel, Girlfriend in a Coma; and Robert Kirkman’s ongoing serialized comic book, The Walking Dead. After a discussion of apocalyptic and postapocalyptic fictions and their ubiquity and popularity in contemporary culture, each work will be analyzed individually to explore each author’s message regarding postapocalyptic concerns. These three texts have been chosen as each represents a point along a loose continuum of high-to-low art. Primarily, this thesis will focus on how each author approaches systems of meaning-making and systems of understanding in postapocalyptic settings and texts. This analysis will examine how characters must reevaluate and find new ways of understanding in order to navigate their postapocalyptic landscapes and how authors defamiliarize contemporary culture and society with these postapocalytptic texts.