Virtual Conference: Contagion Narratives *Deadline Extended*

Contagion Narratives conference


The Department of English, School of Social Sciences and Languages, VIT Vellore
25-26 August 2020
*Deadline for abstract submission extended to August 7, 2020*

See website for submission and registration details.

The ‘outbreak narratives’ (Wald) emerging from across the globe afflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic have once again accentuated human vulnerability and have turned the spotlight back on the nonhuman (microbes, animals, climate and so on) and its ‘confederation of agencies’ (Iovino and Oppermann). The Corona pestilence, like its antecedents such as the Great Plague of London (1665-66), Spanish Flu (1918-1920), SARS (2002-2004) and Ebola (2013-2016), narrates ‘biological catastrophe[s]’ (Caduff) of varying degrees as it puts forward embodied discourses of pain, fear, fatigue, exhaustion and suffering. The permeability of bodies (Alaimo) that COVID-19 foregrounds has sharp parallels with the human survival struggles in the otherwise toxified locations like those near nuclear dumps, landfills and factories.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the fore astonishing discrepancies in response to the threat among different locations in the Global North and South. Emerging records of strategies and successes from different regions indicate that resourcefulness in handling the pandemic is not necessarily correlated with affluence or the availability of the best healthcare. The contagion that rapidly spread from China to Europe and the US, arguably, has effectively highlighted the flipside of both high capitalism and globalisation.

Against this background, the two-day international virtual conference welcomes papers that analyses narratives from the Global South about deadly infectious diseases like COVID-19 by situating them in their wider medical (including biochemical), eco-social and cultural contexts. The conference is conceived as interdisciplinary and participants are encouraged to draw on theories ranging from the medical and environmental humanities, philosophy, gender, cultural and film studies, as well as various strands of social sciences.

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