010 - Pandemic Imaginations

 

Organized by: Studies in English, Peterhouse, University of Cambridge. Prof. Jennifer Wallace

English

The Covid-19 pandemic has radically altered the way we think of ourselves, globally, nationally and locally. We’ve seen the global spread of infection; national lockdowns; the worldwide roll-out of vaccines in which nations compete against each other for doses and open borders are closed once again. On a local level, the heated mask mandate debates have thrown up the issue of whether we think about our individual freedom or our collective responsibility. Covid has even impacted on the way we socialise or the way we mourn.

What kind of pandemic imaginations emerge from this experience? How have literature and the arts responded to this crisis? How far can traditional literature or other imaginative resources help us think through the changes to our society and sense of ourselves over the last two years?

This group session will look at the paradoxes of pandemic: its global reach and yet its isolationary effects; the simultaneous desire and fear of intimacy it provokes; the disease that transcends borders and yet prompts the restriction of travel. Papers are invited which explore both past and contemporary literature and the arts.