Course Description

COVID-19 has so thoroughly upended everyday life for people around the world that it is easy to think that this public health crisis is an unprecedented event. However, mass-scale disease and death have been part of the history of humanity since time immemorial, and just as this pandemic was not the first, it is unlikely to be the last. In this course, students will read four novels, one from each century since the 18th century, dealing explicitly with contagion and its consequences: Daniel Defoe’s "A Journal of the Plague Year" (1722), Mary Shelley’s "The Last Man" (1826), Albert Camus’s "The Plague" (1947), and Ling Ma’s "Severance" (2018). While some attention will be paid to historical, cultural, medical, and philosophical contexts, class discussions will focus on how these novels not only addressed the anxieties and concerns of their time but also potentially inform our own current reality. | Facilitated discussion.
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Section Title
The Literature of Plague: Fiction and Pandemic from the 18th Century to the Present
Online - Zoom
9:00AM to 10:15AM
Sep 13, 2021 to Nov 15, 2021
Schedule and Location
Contact Hours
Delivery Options
Virtual Classroom  
Course Fees
Section Notes

Please note: Students should acquire the specified editions and translations of required books.

Required reading:

Daniel Defoe, A Journal of the Plague Year (?9780140437850)

Albert Camus, The Plague (9780679720218)

Mary Shelley, The Last Man (9780199552351)

Ling Ma, Severance (9781250214997)