The Plague Years collects scholarly and essayistic reflections on literary, visual, and sonic representations of the COVID-19 and other pandemics. These are placed alongside poetry and short fiction written in the first two years of quarantine or isolation. This range expresses the intellectual and imaginative struggle and ingenuity entailed in coming to terms with the rampant spread of disease and its emotional, cultural, and political consequences.
The contributions are from diverse contexts: Africa (from Egypt to South Africa), China, Japan, the US, and Scandinavia. They consider some of the array of contemporary engagements: poems translated from Mandarin about the traumas of the frontline, Chinese calligraphic poetry printed on cartons of PPE, comments on the literary history of representing epidemics and pandemics, political analyses of the post-truth present, and the role of life-writing and gaming in an interrupted world. Given the generative and creative obliquity of many of its parts, this collection shifts how one thinks about the diseased present and the archival pasts on which it draws.
The chapters in this book were originally published as a special issue of English Studies in Africa.
Michael Titlestad, Karl van Wyk and Grace A. Musila
2. Masked Masterpieces: In R≡lational Folds
3. ‘As others feel pain in their lungs’: Albert Camus’s The Plague
5. Plague and Cultural Panic: Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Masque of the Red Death’
6. Two Paintings
7. Towards a Poetics of Disaster: Chinese Poetry in Combating COVID-19
8. Ten Chinese COVID-19 Poets
Translated by Yanbin Kang
9. Ancient Chinese Poetry and Chinese Calligraphy in Combatting COVID-19
10. Will the COVID-19 Crisis Lead to a Fourth Wave of Neo-nationalism?
11. The Room
12. Fever Dreams: Surveying the Representation of Plagues and Pandemics in South African Speculative Fiction
13. An End in Itself: Genre, Apocalypse and the Archive in Deon Meyer’s Fever
Devin William Daniels
14. Plagues in Palimpsest: Historical Time and Narrative Time in Diane Awerbuck’s Home Remedies, Marcus Low’s Asylum and Russel Brownlee’s Garden of the Plagues
16. Dust Explodes for All to See: Narrating the Actual in a Time of Continuous Disaster
17. COVID-19 and African Postage Stamps
18. Green Dream
19. Sonification and Music: Science meets Art
Chatradari ‘Chats’ Devroop and Michael Titlestad
20. Memory Book as a New Genre of Illness Writing: How a Ugandan Farming Mother Wrote about HIV
21. Two Poems
22. Some Speculative Musings on COVID-19 Affectivity, Raymond Williams’ ‘Structure of Feeling’ and Zadie Smith’s Intimations
23. Active Thumbs, Confined Bodies: Eluding the ‘Insect’ in Times of the Plague
Moulay Driss El Maarouf, Taieb Belghazi and Ute Fendler
24. COVID-19: Between Panic, Racism and Social Change
25. Tick Tock
26. Re-imagining a New Normal: COVID-19 Pandemic and the Changing Face of Social Interaction