Date of Award

Spring 4-29-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Lauren Pilcher

Second Advisor

Dr. Stefanie Sevcik

Third Advisor

Dr. Alex Blazer


Freeing the Black Final Girl in Postmillennial Zombie Horror: Race, Gender, and the Strong Black Woman Stereotype in 28 Days Later, The Walking Dead, & Z Nation discusses the cultural image and issues of representation of the black femme within the horror genre. As the horror genre shifts in the 21st century to an era of increasingly diverse representation, examining the black Final Girl is particularly relevant. Race complicates the Final Girl concept and the black Final Girl must be analyzed within the context of the controlling images, like the Strong Black Woman stereotype, and racialized horror tropes of death and abjection. This paper posits that, specifically within the context of post-apocalyptic zombie horror, there are unique opportunities for more complex representations of black femininity. By expanding Carol Clover’s “Final Girl” theory to encompass an intersectional black feminist theoretical framework, this thesis analyzes through an oppositional gaze, the representation of Selena in the British indie film 28 Days Later, Michonne in the indie comic book and AMC television series The Walking Dead, and Lt. Roberta Warren in the SyFy television series Z Nation, as rare examples of black Final Girls who survive and defy racialized horror tropes of death and abjection to present images of black womanhood that encourage greater empathy and self-realization against the deeply entrenched sociality of misogynoir.