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How germs (or the fear of them) spawned Modernism
Talk by Victoria Rosner: One hundred years ago, humanity was beset by a virus far more deadly than COVID-19: the so-called "Spanish Flu," which infected a third of the planet's population and killed 675,000 Americans alone. That pandemic coincided both with the emergence of the modernist aesthetic program and with the cultural assimilation of germ theory -- the idea that infectious disease is transmitted by microscopic agents imperceptible to the human senses. How was modernism shaped by germ theory and the fear of deadly infection? This talk will draw on the work of William Carlos Williams, Ezra Pound, and other writers, and bring together modernist poetics, public health, and early twentieth century bacteriology to tell a story with implications, one hundred years later, for our own pandemic moment.

Apr 16, 2021 04:00 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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