As I may be the target audience for Diseased Cinema: Plagues, Pandemics and Zombies in American Movies (Edinburgh UP, 2023), I really enjoyed interviewing Robert Alpert, Merle Eisenberg, and Lee Mordechai. Their co-authored book explores the politics of American films about disease and zombies. We had a wide-ranging, thoughtful, and funny conversation about pandemics, capitalism, academic collaboration, apocalyptic fiction, and the importance of family.
Robert Alpert is an Adjunct Instructor at Fordham University where he has taught courses on computers and robots in film, movies and the American experience, and media law. He has written extensively on movies, including on directors, such as Chaplin, Meyers, and Bigelow, as well as on other topics, such as gender, the Hollywood idiom, and the politics of science fiction. His publications can be found in Jump Cut, Senses of Cinema, and CineAction. Alpert received his M.F.A. in Film from Columbia University. He also received a J.D. from New York University and practiced intellectual property law for over 30 years.
Merle Eisenberg is an Assistant Professor of History at Oklahoma State University and a founding faculty member of the Oklahoma State Pandemic Center. He has published articles in journals including The American Historical Review and Past & Present. His work has also appeared in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which received press coverage in CNN, Fox News, USA Today, and the NY Post. He has also appeared on CNN to discuss historical pandemics and regularly teaches courses on plagues and pandemics in history. Along with Lee Mordechai, he is the co-founder and co-host of the Infectious Historians podcast.
Lee Mordechai is a Senior Lecturer at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Associate Director of Princeton University’s Climate Change and History Research Initiative. He has published over twenty academic articles, including two in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and in The American Historical Review and Past & Present. He has taught several courses on epidemics, including a seminar that used a draft of Diseased Cinema: Plagues, Pandemics and Zombies in American Movies.
Michael G. Vann is a professor of world history at California State University, Sacramento. A specialist in imperialism and the Cold War in Southeast Asia, he is the author of The Great Hanoi Rat Hunt: Empires, Disease, and Modernity in French Colonial Vietnam (Oxford University Press, 2018). When he’s not reading or talking about new books with smart people, Mike can be found surfing in Santa Cruz, California.