Representing a (Post)Pandemic World (1722-2022)

deadline for submissions: 
October 7, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
University of Toronto Quarterly

Special Issue of University of Toronto Quarterly (Fall 2024)

Representing a (Post)Pandemic World (1722-2022)

This special issue of the University of Toronto Quarterly asks: What is the role of art in a (post)pandemic world? How do representations of a virus/pandemic bear witness to, diagnose, and remediate the (post)pandemic world? How do we define (post)pandemic writing and the arts throughout their long histories?  

Answering these questions is difficult because, as Elizabeth Outka argues, a pandemic is a “miasma” with “spectral realities”; it is “an unseen, corrupting, and depleting menace…. a fog-like, obscuring atmosphere…. [that infuses] itself into bodies and communities.”  Thus the parenthetical insertion in our issue’s theme – “Representing a (Post)Pandemic World” – figures both the fixed and fluid centre and circumference of our scope as we range the past, present, and future of pandemics along biological, cultural, medical, political, textual, visual, and digital lines. Indeed, the scope of the issue follows Arundhati Roy who argues that “historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next.” 

We invite abstracts that explore the 300-year period framed by the publication of Daniel Defoe’s A Journal of a Plague Year in 1722 to 2022, and the diverse artistic shapes that pandemics, plagues, and epidemics take in literature, the arts, film, music, comic books, television, and games. Understanding the (post)pandemic’s dimensionality is a trans-disciplinary undertaking, calling for different strategies and methodologies in order to understand how viruses develop, spread, and infect individuals and communities in a (post)human world. Thus we hope to draw together scholars from a wide variety of disciplines, who will explore the intersections among literature, the arts, medicine, sociology, anthropology, gender studies, queer studies, cultural studies, media studies, game studies, among other fields, as they engage a range of themes and issues, including but not limited to: aesthetics, class, culture, economics, gender, history, race, and religion. Pandemics, plagues, and epidemics, we would contend, reshape the very content and form of how humanity images, narrates, and represents itself through visual, textual, and interactive modes in the arts, literature, and gaming.

Specific topics may include, but are not limited to:

~ individual writers and literary and cultural texts
~ TV shows and movies; comics and graphic novels
~ the visual arts, music, and dance
~ games: board, role-playing, and video games
~ social media and digital treatments
~ (con)figuring the pandemic and viral as discourse, form, genre, image, metaphor, mode, sign, trope
~ literacy, misinformation and truth
~ medicine, science, and technology
~ bio-ethics and the ethics of care, empathy, and kindness
~ personal narratives, (auto)biography, and auto-ethnographies: witnessing and testifying 
~ melancholy, memory, nostalgia, exhaustion, ennui
~ grieving, grievability, and trauma; rituals of commemorating, memorializing, mourning 
~ collaboration, the communal, and community
~ equity, diversity, and inclusion; class and wealth
~ faith and spirituality
~ containment, isolation, lockdown, and social distancing
~ embodied (and embalmed) texts and textualized bodies; the nature of uttering and silencing
~ pandemic futurism and science fiction
~ catastrophe and disaster studies: living through, coping, recovering from, transcending disaster
~ pandemic geographies and temporalities: how is time and place experienced?
~ the “post”: what and when does a pandemic end?  

Scholars from any humanities or social science discipline, especially those engaged in interdisciplinary work, are encouraged to contribute 350-400-word abstracts with a short bio note and brief CV of recent teaching, research, and publications by 7 Oct 2022 to and .  Articles will be due 1 July 2023, and should follow the MLA format and range in length from 6,000-8,000 words.  The issue will be published in November 2024 in the University of Toronto Quarterly.

Co-editors: Chris Koenig-Woodyard, Wendy Knepper, and Daniela Janes