CFA: Pandemic Protagonists – Viral (Re)Actions in Pandemic and Corona Fictions

Calls for Submissions

In a peer-reviewed edited volume on Pandemic Protagonists, editors seek to gain insight into the array of main characters or certain groups of characters appearing in pandemic and Corona Fictions from a literary, cultural, and media studies point of view. Submissions are due by May 1, 2022.

Therefore, they invite critical reflections on:

(a) the representations of stereotypical or astereotypical individual main characters, e.g.

  • the doctor, such as doctora Tadic in Edmundo Paz Soldán’s novel Los días de la peste (2017) or Elena in David Chapon’s novel Éloge du cygne (2021).
  • the outbreak carrier embodied by a ‘femme fatale’, such as the character Beth Emhoff in the disaster movie Contagion (2011), or in the form of ‘untori’, such as the two men in Manzoni’s Storia della Colonna Infame (1840) falsely accused of spreading the plague. 
  • the personified Death, such as in Poe’s The Mask of the Red Death (1842).
  • the researcher or specialist, such as the virologist Gaia in the dystopian story “El equilibrio natural” by Yaque Vara (2020) or the biologist Emeraude Pic in J.D. Kurtness’ novel Aquariums (2019).
  • the writer/chronicler, such as Dr. Rieux in Camus’s La Peste (1947) or the novelist Juan in the comedy film ¡Ni te me acerques! (2020).
  • the immune protagonist, such as the doctor’s wife in José Saramago’s Ensaio sobre a cegueira (1995) as the only one not losing sight.

(b) the representations of certain groups, e.g.

  • children, such as in “Soy caramelo” by Coan Gómez from the anthology Delirios de cuarentena (2020) written from the perspective of an unborn child, or including a three-year-old co-protagonist in Chiara Gamberale’s Come il mare in un bicchiere (2020).
  • elderly, such as the old couple in the Spanish TV series Diarios de cuarentena (2020) struggling with new communication technologies.
  • ethnic minorities, such as indigenous people in the Quebec TV series Épidémie (2019/2020), who are scapegoated because they are accused of transmitting a deadly virus.
  • system relevant workers who kept the infrastructures running during lockdowns while the rest of society was obligated to stay at home, such as in Ana Freire’s El invierno de las flores (2021).

(c) the virus as protagonist. Hereby, the following questions may arise:

  • How is the virus represented on an (film) aesthetic level, e.g. via colours, sound, symbols, etc.?
  • In what ways does the virus drive the storyline? E.g. ways of transmission or bodily symptoms of the sick, such as the appearance of sudden sadness, hunger, or anger attacks preceding each stage of the advancing disease in the disaster movie Perfect Sense (2011) directed by David Mackenzie.
  • What is the purpose of a concrete visual representation of the virus, such as in the movie Outbreak (1995), where microscopic images of the virus and its effect on the body cells are shown, although the main enemy are the military leaders rather than the virus itself.

(d) thevirus as a trigger forthe subsequent storyline, e.g.

  • Does the virus merely serve as a background for the story such as in El amor en los tiempos del cólera (1985) by Gabriel García Márquez or as in Boccaccio’s Decameron (1349-1353)?
  • Does it appear to aggravate social inequality issues and environmental pollution, or function as a divine punishment?
  • Why and how do certain TV/web series include the virus into their episodes, such as “Plan confiné.e.s” in Plan cœur (2020)?

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