In light of the current global pandemic, we are assembling essays for a book that considers contagion and epidemics from the perspective of visual culture. Our publication aims to explore visualizations of epidemic diseases, such as sick bodies and invisible pathogens, in the modern era (from the 18th century through today) within the cultural, political, and economic fabric of society. We are interested in determining the extent to which artists employed traditional vocabularies of pain and death or engaged with the imagery of germs and microbes. We are especially concerned with examining issues of gender, race, and social class in eras of colonialism, international trade, industrialism, and global networks. One of the central thematic focuses of the book is to examine attitudes towards scientific medical knowledge within the context of traditional beliefs (whether folkloric or religious) and of government intervention and censorship.
While some of the essays in the book have been secured, we are still looking for ones that address certain specific pandemics or the topic more theoretically and thematically. In addition to issues cited above, potential topics include but are not limited to the following possibilities:
– In what ways do visualizations of epidemics differ from those that address general illness or disease?
– Artistic testimonies to the emotional experience of pandemics, whether fear, isolation, trauma, and loss or hope and healing.
– Imagery related to either malaria, smallpox, yellow fever, or tuberculosis. Can distinctions be drawn between attitudes towards these illnesses as reflected in their visualizations?
– Art created by indigenous artists globally that responds to covid (or earlier epidemics).
– Bioart, bacteria, and virus related to contagious disease.
– Visual culture (caricatures, cartoons, photographs) that provide commentary on doctors and medical researchers in fields of immunology and germ research.
This book is being considered for publication for the Routledge series “Science and the Arts Since 1750”