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Contagion! Literary narratives from the plague to the coronavirus

Contagion ! Récits littéraires de la peste au coronavirus

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Published on Tuesday, February 16, 2021


Le colloque international et interdisciplinaire Contagion ! Récits littéraires de la peste au coronavirus vise à l'analyse du récit de la contagion, jusqu'à nos jours, se déployant à travers l’invention de langages chargés de sens inquiétants pour retracer les événements et les visions de survie et de coexistence avec l’épidémie, de rencontre avec l’autre et d’attente du day after, afin de réécrire la relation entre l’individu, la communauté et l’autorité. Les récits littéraires peuvent être analysés selon différentes perspectives critiques et méthodologiques, dans le domaine linguistique ou didactique, psychanalytique ou sociologique, médical ou juridique, ou encore dans le domaine des études de genre.


SSML of Benevento, International Conference, Friday 21 May 2021


contagion (n.) late 14c., “a communicable disease; a harmful or corrupting influence,” from Old French contagion and directly from Latin contagionem (nominative contagio) "a touching, contact," often in a bad sense, "a contact with something physically or morally unclean, contagion," from contingere "to touch," from assimilated form of com "with, together" + tangere "to touch." Meaning "infectious contact or communication" is from 1620s (Online Etymology Dictionary).

Over the centuries, contagious diseases have been reinterpreted and imagined  by a great number of literary texts. The Conference, which is international and interdisciplinary, spanning in space and time, will investigate the modes of representation of contagious diseases such as plague, smallpox, typhus, Spanish flu, Ebola, AIDS, SARS, Coronavirus or of ‘invented’ ones.

In literary texts ― novels, short stories, poetry, plays, essays― contagion narratives heavily dwell on phobia, disease, physical and psychological changes, ethical and religious unrest, movement restrictions, procedures of social and political control. At the core of our discourse are the narrations of the ‘diseased’ body, both individual and collective, the strong feelings and emotions that are staged and triggered by a web of anxiety, of hope and nostalgia, of alienation and discrimination, leading to a speculation on the human condition.

The narration of each specific contagion requires the invention of  ways of seeing embedded in language which deploys disquieting meanings, outlining a chain of events and visions inherent in survival and cohabitation with the epidemic, the relationship with the Other in the aftermath of the ‘day after’, in order to rewrite and negotiate the relation linking individual, community and authority.

The literary narratives should be analysed according to different critical and methodological perspectives: linguistics, didactics, anthropology, psychology, sociology, gender, medicine, law.

Submission guidelines

Conference languages: Italian, French and English.

Conference venue: SSML (Institute for Linguistic Mediators) of Benevento, Italy.

Abstract: please send a 250 word max. abstract and a brief bio-sketch (max. 100 words)

by 10 March 2021 to:


Covid permitting, the Conference will be in person and online.

Scientific Committee

  • Oriana Palusci
  • Kathy Elisabeth Agazzini
  • Vincenzo Simoniello
  • Giuseppe Maccauro

Organising Committee

  • Paolo Palumbo
  • Michela Renna
  • Assunta Genito
  • Ramona Guardabascio


  • Benevento, Italian Republic


  • Wednesday, March 10, 2021


  • coronavirus, peste, contagion


  • Oriana Palusci
    courriel : o [dot] palusci [at] ssmlinternazionale [dot] it

Information source

  • Vincenzo Simoniello
    courriel : v [dot] simoniello [at] ssmlinternazionale [dot] it


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Contagion! Literary narratives from the plague to the coronavirus », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Tuesday, February 16, 2021, https://doi.org/10.58079/162i

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