Chair of the Department of Philosophy at California State University, East Bay Christopher Moreman, won a national popular culture award in April for a book he co-edited titled “Digital Death: Mortality and Beyond in the Online Age.”
The book is a collection of essays and was named a co-winner of the Popular Culture Association-American Culture Association’s Ray and Pat Browne Award for Best Edited Collection. Moreman has been teaching at CSUEB since 2008 and became the department chair in 2012.
Moreman earned a Bachelor of Arts in Classical Studies at Concordia University, a Master of Arts in Mysticism and Religious Experience from the University of Kent and a Doctorate in Religious Studies from the University of Wales. Moreman has edited several anthologies and books as well as authoring his own work titled “Beyond the Threshold: Afterlife Beliefs and Experiences in World Religions”.
The idea for the book originated when Moreman and the co-winner of the award A. David Lewis edited papers on the subject of digital death at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion in 2012.
“An editor from Praeger was at the panel, and invited my colleague and I to edit a collection on the topic,” Moreman said. “We put out a call for papers and from the large number of submissions we received, we picked the approaches that we thought were most interesting.”
In addition to teaching an independent study course and Philosophy of Religion at CSUEB this quarter Moreman is also the school’s pop culture expert and is frequently interviewed by media outlets.
“I see Pop Culture, like Folklore, as a reflection of popular beliefs, and the contrast between these and traditional religious doctrines is interesting,” Moreman said. “Especially when we look at death and the afterlife, there are orthodox traditions in each religion, but these exist alongside, and sometimes outside of, folk belief and pop culture.”
Moreman received some notoriety for his knowledge about zombies in the wake of the AMC’s hit television show “The Walking Dead.” He has been interviewed by the Washington Post, CNBC, USA Today and the New York Times about zombies and the issues that surround the popular topic.
“My interest in zombies relates to my interest in death and mortality in pop culture,” Moreman said. “Zombie fiction is all about the end of the world, and raises important questions about the meaning of life and death, and of personal identity. The zombie tradition itself grew out of the confluence of African spirituality and Catholic tradition and modern zombie fiction is full of religious themes.”
This is the first award that Moreman has won for his work despite editing several publications and authoring one book.