Are We Ready for Some Plague Lit?

ALL1314-C     First 6 Weeks      Mondays 1:30-2:50     Start Date 11-Sept
Grossman 106     Limit 25

Daniel Defoe’s Journal of the Plague Year (1722) infects London with rumor and doubt no less than bubonic bacteria.  Statistics, lockdown debates, fragmentalities of terror, pathos, irony, quirk, show a medical/social/governmental crisis inciting one of knowledge/belief.  Now that we’ve met our plague, Defoe’s strange novel resonates newly.  We’ll add shorter fictions by Katherine Anne Porter (flu) and Susan Sontag (AIDS), differently depicting dis-eased dynamics of uninformation, isolation, and interdependency.  About 300 fairly dense pages total.

Text: Please acquire, if at all possible, the Penguin Classics edition of Defoe’s _A Journal of the Plague Year_, ed. Cynthia Wall (Penguin, 2003), ISBN # 978-0-140-43785-0. With no chapters or other subdivisions in this 200-pp text, it will be very helpful if we can all be, literally, on the same page. Shorter texts will be distributed as PDF files.

Assignment: For the first class meeting, please read, in _A Journal of the Plague Year_, at least pp 3-60 (up to this paragraph: “This may serve a little to describe the dreadful Condition of that Day, tho’ it is impossible to say any Thing that is able to give a true Idea of it to those who did not see it, other than this; that it was indeed very, very, very dreadful, and such as no Tongue can express”).

Coordinator: Robert Chibka

Bob taught fictions and fiction-writing at Boston College for 30-some-odd years before retiring to Brewster. He enjoys being pushed around by sentences and returning the favor. If you have questions about the course or the reading, please feel free to email him: