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Palgrave Macmillan

Legacies of Plague in Literature, Theory and Film

ISBN 9780230235427
Publication Date May 2009
Formats Ebook (PDF) Hardcover 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan

Legacies of Plague in Literature, Theory and Film is an account of the history and continuation of plague as a potent metaphor since the disease ceased to be an epidemic threat in Western Europe. Moving across narrative, theatre, political discourse, psychoanalysis and film theory, the book engages with twentieth-century critiques of fascism, anti-Semitic rhetoric, the Oedipal legacy of psychoanalysis and its reception, film spectatorship and the zombie genre. Plague's legacies lie in our dreams, our fears and in language itself. They reveal the fragility of the social bond; the fascination of diseased spectacle; and the literal and metaphorical power of pestilence. Legacies of Plague highlights the way in which structures of ritual surrounding the contagious and what is tabo, while they may have been practically supplanted, are still operative under new guises in recent and present discourse and can be used to label and stigmatise in powerful and disturbing ways.

JENNIFER COOKE is Lecturer in English in the Department of English and Drama at Loughborough University, UK.

List of Illustrations
Introduction: 'I Ain't Dead'
Writing Plague: Defoe and Camus 
The Politics of Plague Theatre: Artaud, Čapek and Camus
Oedipus the Pharmakos and the Psychoanalytic Plague
Dreaming Plague and Plaguing Dreams: The Teachings of Psychoanalysis
Plague, Jews and Fascist Anti-Semites: 'The Great Incurable Malady'
Screening Plague Images / Plaguing Screen Images: von Trier's Epidemic and Hypnosis
Plague, Zombies and the Hypnotic Relation: Romero and After


'The impact of bubonic plague did not cease with the last major European epidemic of 1720. As Cooke's illuminating study demonstrates, Western culture is haunted by this horrifying disease which continues to infect the images of novels, plays and films. Legacies of Plague is a compelling and perceptive exploration of the grim aesthetic and political afterlife of a uniquely terrifying affliction.' - Margaret Healy, Senior Lecturer in English, University of Sussex, UK
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