From Outbreak to The Walking Dead, apocalyptic narratives of infection, contagion and global pandemic are an inescapable part of twenty-first-century popular culture. Yet these fears and fantasies are too virulent to be simply quarantined within fictional texts. The vocabulary and metaphors of outbreak narratives have permeated how news media, policymakers and the general public view the real world and the people within it. In an age where fact and fiction seem increasingly difficult to separate, contagious bodies (and the discourses that contain them) continually blur established boundaries between real and unreal, legitimacy and frivolity, science and the supernatural. Where previous scholarly work has examined the spread of epidemic realities in horror fiction, the essays in this collection also consider how epidemic fantasies and fears influence reality. Initiating dialogue between scholarship from cultural and media studies, and scholarship from the medical humanities and social sciences, this collection gives readers a fuller picture of the viropolitics of contagious bodies in contemporary global culture.
An overview of the book’s contents is available below, as well as on the UWP website:
Embodying Contagion Table of Contents
“Preface” by Priscilla Wald
“Embodying the Fantasies and Realities of Contagion” by Megen de Bruin-Molé and Sara Polak
Part One: Epidemic Fantasies in Reality
- “The Krokodil Drug Menace, Cross-Genre Body Horror and the Zombie Apocalypse” by Peter Burger
- “‘Preparedness 101: Zombie Pandemic’ and the Ebola Scare: How the CDC’s Use of Zombie Pop Culture Helped Fan a Nationalist Outbreak Narrative” by Sara Polak
- “The Zika Virus, Ebola Contagion Narratives and US Obsessions with Securitising Neglected Infectious Diseases” by Madison Aleece Krall, Marouf Hasian and Yvonne Karyn Clark
- “An Affectionate Epidemic: How Disability Goes Viral on Social Media” by Angela M. Smith
- “‘Fatties Cause Global Warming’: The Strange Entanglement of Obesity and Climate Change” by Francis Ray White
Part Two: Epidemic Realities in Fantasy
- “‘Time is of the Essence, Doctor’: Twenty-First Century (Post-)Apocalyptic Fiction, White Fatherhood and Anti-Intellectual Tendencies in FX’s The Strain” by Sandra Becker
- “Killable Hordes, Chronic Others and ‘Mindful’ Consumers: Rehabilitating the Zombie in Twenty-First-Century Popular Culture” by Megen de Bruin-Molé
- “Networks, Desire and Risk Management in Gay Contagion Fiction” by Mica Hilson
- “‘This Long Disease, My Life’: AIDS Activism and Contagious Bodies in Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart and The Destiny of Me” by Astrid Haas
- “The Epidemic of History: Contagion of the Past in the Era of the Never-Ending Present” by Elana Gomel
“‘Contagion Contagion’: Viral Metaphors, Lockdown and Suffering Economies in the COVID-19 Pandemic” by Sandra Becker
When we were writing this book we had no idea we would be making final revisions in a global pandemic, but as Priscilla Wald writes in the book’s preface, this experience “vividly illustrates many of the issues addressed in the volume, notably how such an event has starkly confronted us with the inequities and injustices that urgently require our attention. We can no longer call for change. At all levels, we have to make it. All of us.”
You can read more about Embodying Contagion (including early reviews) on the UWP website.
For a limited time UWP are also offering 20% off any title in their Horror Studies series (including Embodying Contagion) with the code HORROR21.