Not Unprecedented: Learning From The Literature Of Plagues And Epidemics
October 26, 2020
Every century has seen major disease outbreaks—plague, smallpox, cholera, typhus, influenza, AIDS, and recent emergent viruses. Each event generates public narratives in which science, superstition, apocalyptic prediction, and a range of stock characters are uneasily commingled. Once again, we are raising old questions at the intersection of science and our cultural values: Authority: Who tells the story? From what perspective? Whose stories get told and who is silenced? Credibility: How do we decide whose accounts to believe? Meaning: How does this global threat reshape reflection on our human situation? In this presentation, Marilyn McEntyre, professor of medical humanities at the UC Berkeley-UCSF Joint Medical Program, will look at the current pandemic in light of a few classic tales from the literature of plagues and epidemics. This event will be live-streamed via Zoom. If you are interested in attending in person, please indicate your interest when you register. About Marilyn McEntyre: Marilyn McEntyre’s books and teaching focus on spirituality, reading, writing, and healing. Her recent books include Speaking Peace in a Climate of Conflict (Eerdmans, 2020); Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies (Eerdmans, 2nd ed. 2020); When Poets Pray (Eerdmans, 2019); and Make a List: How a Simple Practice Can Change Your Life and Open Your Heart (Eerdmans, 2018). Two books that draw on her work as a hospice volunteer are A Faithful Farewell (Eerdmans, 2015) and A Long Letting Go (Eerdmans, 2015). She has taught college students, seminarians, medical students, and adult learners for many years and leads retreats and writing workshops around the country. She loves to coach both experienced writers and anyone who wants to write, just to see what happens. You can find out more about her at www.marilynmcentyre.com.