Imaginative responses to the pandemic are beginning to appear. But plague literature, plague fiction, has been around for a long time. Boccacio writes about the Black Death in The Decameron in 1349-1353. In 1722, Daniel Defoe published A Journal of the Plague Year, “the account of one man’s experience of the year 1665, when the bubonic plague struck the city of London …” Plague stories have become a subgenre of science fiction that takes us to the apocalypse and the wreckage thereafter. Zombie tales, such as the TV show (originally a comic) The Walking Dead, are prime examples of plague to apocalypse.
In this seminar, I want us to reflect on some of the contemporary plague fiction and consider what makes such stories popular, and how they do or do not help us make sense of the pandemic. What do they say about being human? For example, what does it say about us that we have intentionally spread disease in the past. If we made one …We will discuss some of the conventions of this subgenre and students will have the opportunity to write their own and share and discuss it with the class.
My goal for students is that they will come away from the seminar with one or more of the following:
• a working outline;
• some understanding of how plague/pandemic fiction can best function and be successful;
• a beginning to a story.