COVID19 and the Plague Year SPECIAL ISSUE
“The plague full swift goes by;
I am sick, I must die.
Lord, have mercy on us!”
Thomas Nashe, ‘A Litany in Time of Plague’ (1592)
“I had a little bird
Its name was Enza
I opened the window,
1918 jump-rope rhyme
“It's going to disappear. One day — it's like a miracle — it will disappear.”
Donald Trump, remarks at African-American History Month reception in the Cabinet Room of the White House (February 27, 2020)
This Special Issue of Angles would like to delve into the pandemic provoked by COVID-19, and its effects on the Anglophone world. As schools and universities are still reeling from weeks of lockdown and emergency distance-learning, plans are already underway to cope with an expected Second Wave when classes resume in the Fall. This issue invites writers, artists and academics to reflect on what has occurred in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, on historical, political, institutional, artistic, and personal levels.
The crisis created by the spread of the coronavirus has heightened public awareness of structural flaws in public health and education funding and management, and in the ways in which political leaders have responded to the emergency in the English-speaking world, often exacerbating what Naomi Klein calls ‘disaster capitalism’ which exploits crises to further implement its neoliberal agenda. It has also put to the fore the role of the Humanities in dealing with life in lockdown, recalling the importance of non-STEM disciplines, as well as provoking a resurgence of interest in the role of epidemics in history.
Tales of destruction and apocalypse are founding elements in Judeo-Christian history and culture. After narrating the Creation of the world, the Bible provides numerous tales of its destruction, both in the Old and New Testament, with the Flood, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the Plagues of Egypt, and the promised Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse… suggesting divine Creation and destruction are consubstantial. Humankind has grappled with this paradox ever since, living through epidemics and bringing plagues to lands new and old, as when Asian travellers brought the Black Death to Europe in the Middle Ages, when Europeans brought the smallpox to America in the sixteenth century, or when the 1918 Spanish Flu killed tens of millions around the globe.
Plagues have also inspired classical literary monuments, appearing as a backdrop of Homer’s Iliad or Boccaccio’s Decameron, recalling the omnipresence of pandemics. Recent commentaries on how Shakespeare wrote King Lear while the plague closed London theatres have increased our awareness of the ways in which pandemics can inspire new work amidst chaos and desolation, or how pandemics can serve as productive and even entertaining topics themselves, as with Daniel Defoe’s Journal of the Plague Year (1722), Mary Shelley’s The Last Man (1826), Stephen King’s The Stand (1994), or movies such as Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion (2011) alongside other fictional depictions of virus-borne apocalypse.
This issue of Angles would like to discuss the history of pandemics, the problems they raise, and the reflections they provoke among writers, artists and academics working in, and on, the Anglophone world. It particularly welcomes politically engaged contributions on topics which may include, but are not limited to:
- Pedagogical practices during lockdown: emergency/crisis virtual learning, student and teacher responses to the situation, debates on virtual / blended / in-person teaching…
- The impact of the pandemic on Higher Education: layoffs, extra hours, divide between permanent vs casualised staff, effects on foreign-student enrollment, gender divide among researchers during lockdown…
- Politics and research during the pandemic: what happens to politics during lockdown? How have governments responded to the pandemic (particularly with regards to civil liberties, mass surveillance, state involvement, etc.)? How have research interests and funding evolved as a consequence?
- Words and slogans used during the pandemic, both official (‘lockdown’ / ‘stay at home’ / ‘shelter-in-place’ / ‘stay alert’ / ‘social distancing’…) and non-official (‘covidiot’ / ‘quatorzaine’ / ‘Miss Rona’…)
- Pandemics in history and fiction.
To make sense of exceptional circumstances and put them in perspective, this issue would like to incorporate formats which are also personal and experimental. Angles welcomes experimental research, and different formats are actively encouraged: standard written texts, multimedia presentations including music, drama, photography… All disciplines interested in the Anglophone world are welcome, whether from academic, literary, creative visual arts or other perspectives, dealing with history, politics, economics and other disciplines, as can be seen from the journal’s philosophical statement: https://angles.edel.univ-poitiers.fr/index.php?id=74
All textual materials must be submitted through the dedicated submission website:https://angles.parisnanterre.fr/index.php/angles/submissions
For submission of material in non-traditional format (video, audio), please contact the guest editors for guidance.
Deadline / Contact
Complete proposals must be submitted by October 3, 2020. Prospective authors may contact the guest editors for feedback before this deadline.
Guest editors: Camille Noûs (Laboratoire Cogitamus) and Yan Brailowsky (Angles editorial board)
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org (all emails will be acknowledged)