Infectious Inequalities : Epidemics, Trust, and Social Vulnerabilities in Cinema book cover
1st Edition

Infectious Inequalities
Epidemics, Trust, and Social Vulnerabilities in Cinema

ISBN 9781032199665
Published December 22, 2021 by Routledge
166 Pages 24 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This book explores societal vulnerabilities highlighted within cinema and develops an interpretive framework for understanding the depiction of societal responses to epidemic disease outbreaks across cinematic history.

Drawing on a large database of twentieth- and twenty-first-century films depicting epidemics, the study looks into issues including trust, distrust, and mistrust; different epidemic experiences down the lines of expertise, gender, and wealth; and the difficulties in visualizing the invisible pathogen on screen. The authors argue that epidemics have long been presented in cinema as forming a point of cohesion for the communities portrayed, as individuals and groups “from below” represented as characters in these films find solidarity in battling a common enemy of elite institutions and authority figures. Throughout the book, a central question is also posed: “cohesion for whom?”, which sheds light on the fortunes of those characters that are excluded from these expressions of collective solidarity.

This book is a valuable reference for scholars and students of film studies and visual studies as well as academic and general readers interested in topics of films and history, and disease and society.

The Open Access version of this book, available at, has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 4.0 license.

Table of Contents

1. Understanding Epidemics through the Cinematic Lens  2. Societal Responses to Epidemics: Immorality and Resistance  3. Suspicious Minds: Cinematic Depiction of Distrust during Epidemics  4. Bridging the Gap: Epidemics, Public Health Workers, and "Heroism" in Cinematic Perspective  5. From Spreaders to Sacrifice: Cinematic Representation of Women during Epidemic  6. Between Urban Depravity and Rural Backwardness: Cinematic Depiction of Poverty during Epidemics  7. Conclusion: Epidemics and Cinema in an Age of COVID-19

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Qijun Han is Associate Professor at the School of Foreign Studies, Nanjing University of Science and Technology (China). She has published widely in film, media, and cultural studies in journals such as Cultural and Social History; Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television; Critical Arts; Continuum; Gender and History; Visual Studies; and many more.

Daniel R. Curtis is Associate Professor at the Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication, Erasmus University Rotterdam (The Netherlands). He has published widely in social and environmental history in journals such as Economic History Review; Speculum; Journal of Social History; Environment and History; American Journal of Physical Anthropology; Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Medical Humanities; and many more.