Embodying Contagion

The Viropolitics of Horror and Desire in Contemporary Discourse

Editor(s) Sandra Becker,Megen de Bruin-Molé,Sara Polak

Language: English

Genre(s): Literary Criticism

Series: Horror Studies

  • March 2021 · 288 pages ·216x138mm

  • · Paperback - 9781786836908
  • · eBook - epub - 9781786836922

About The Book


To view Embodying Contagion for free click on the following link: https://www.uwp.co.uk/app/uploads/Embodying-Contagion-full-pdf-OA-low-res-min.pdf

This edited volume is also available to read on OAPEN: https://library.oapen.org/handle/20.500.12657/47586

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; vocabulary and metaphors from outbreak narratives have now infiltrated 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. Bringing scholarship from cultural and media studies into conversation with scholarship from the medical humanities and social sciences, this collection aims to give readers a fuller picture of the viropolitics of contagious bodies in contemporary global culture.


‘Embodying Contagion offers multiple exciting, critical, and insightful chapters on how contagions operate in words, in narratives, and in visual media. As the book shows, there is a cultural politics of contagion and what it does to bodies, and there is an ethics in how we can navigate the viral condition – our current just one among many past, many to come.’
-Professor Jussi Parikka, Winchester School of Art

‘Haunting and timely: a set of meditations in an emergency that reflect not only on the present viral pandemic, but on the various crises that led to this moment, the ways we narrativise real world disaster, and the disastrous ways we have shared information and misinformation in the new millennium.’
-Dr Sarah Juliet Lauro, The University of Tampa

'In ways the contributors could possibly never have imagined when beginning this project (Becker’s epilogue reveals the book’s pre-COVID origins), Embodying Contagion has succeeded in capturing an enduring cultural and academic interest in viral narratives which has become ever-more relevant since 2020. The collection is well-structured to reveal the connections between these essays and, although there are themes which are revisited throughout, a variety of contexts and analytical frameworks ensures that this never becomes repetitive. Overall, this text offers an innovative approach to the theme of ‘contagion’, and will be a welcome intervention in studies of viral history, popular culture, and public communication concerning contagious disease.'
- Review by Rosalind Crocker, The Dark Arts Journal. Full review here https://bit.ly/3xNI2F4


Notes on Contributors
Embodying the Fantasies and Realities of Contagion
Part I: Epidemic Fantasies in Reality
Chapter 1: The Krokodil Drug Menace, Cross-Genre Body Horror, and the Zombie Apocalypse
Chapter 2: Preparedness 101: Zombie Pandemic and the Ebola Scare – How the CDC’s Use of Zombie Pop Culture Helped Fan a Nationalist Outbreak Narrative
Chapter 3: The Zika Virus, Ebola Contagion Narratives, and U.S. Obsessions with Securitizing Neglected Infectious Diseases
Chapter 4: An Affectionate Epidemic: How Disability Goes Viral on Social Media
Chapter 5: ‘Fatties Cause Global Warming’: The Strange Entanglement of Obesity and Climate Change
Part II: Epidemic Realities in Fantasy
Chapter 6: ‘Time is of the Essence, Doctor’: Twenty-First Century (Post-)Apocalyptic Fiction, White Fatherhood, and Anti-Intellectual Tendencies in FX’s The Strain
Chapter 7: Killable Hordes, Chronic Others, and ‘Mindful’ Consumers: Rehabilitating the Zombie in Twenty-First-Century Popular Culture
Chapter 8: Networks, Desire, and Risk Management in Gay Contagion Fiction
Chapter 9: This Long Disease, My Life:’ AIDS Activism and Contagious Bodies in Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart and The Destiny of Me
Chapter 10: The Epidemic of History: Contagion of the Past in the Era of the Never-Ending Present
‘Contagion Contagion’: Viral Metaphors, Lockdown and Suffering Economies in the COVID-19 Pandemic

About the Editor(s)

Author(s): Sandra Becker

Sandra Becker is Lecturer in the Department of Media and Culture Studies at Utrecht University.

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Author(s): Megen de Bruin-Molé

Megen de Bruin-Molé is Lecturer in Digital Media Practice at the University of Southampton.

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Author(s): Sara Polak

Sara Polak is Assistant Professor in American Studies at Leiden University.

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