Date Approved


Graduate Degree Type


Degree Name

English (M.A.)

Degree Program


First Advisor

Robert Rozema

Second Advisor

Kathleen Blumreich

Third Advisor

Rob Franciosi

Academic Year



Despite widespread cultural success, Robert Kirkman’s comics series, The Walking Dead, has received little critical attention in the literary canon. The limited critical attention it has received fails to provide an in-depth examination of the work’s morality. This could be a result of the ever-present influence of Frederic Wertham’s claims in his 1954 work, Seduction of the Innocent. However, when viewed through the frameworks provided by John Gardner’s On Moral Fiction and Wayne C. Booth’s The Company We Keep, Kirkman’s zombie narrative exhibits morality in multi-layered and complex ways with every turn of the page. Through the gothic settings, zombies, and characters found in the series, Kirkman meets the criteria for moral fiction and so provides lasting and significant lessons about how to best live to 21st century audiences. Because of this, a horror comic like The Walking Dead not only deserves but also requires further examination in the literary canon.