Skip to main content

COVID-19 Course Resource Guide

We're in This Together: An Interdisciplinary Exploration of the Coronavirus Pandemic

Lesson Materials

May 26th: Literary Responses to Past Pandemics

This session will dive into how writers have processed past pandemics through their work, and discuss how metaphors are being used to describe the current COVID 19 pandemic as it is unfolding. 

Video Lecture

Assigned Readings

May 27: Pandemics, Politics, and Pictures: Italian Art and the Black Death

In this session we’ll be looking at the response of the visual arts to pandemics, with particular emphasis on the roles of sculpture and painting in the aftermath of the Black Death in Italy in 1348. We’ll see the effects of apocalyptic fearmongering, social and political polarization and fake news on the production and reception of sculpture and painting in the later fourteenth century, providing a window for us into how a pandemic was experienced in one corner of the premodern world.

Video Lecture 

Assigned Readings

  • “The Epidemic in Italy" in The Great Pestilence (A.D. 1348-9), Now Commonly Known as the Black Death 
    • This is a reading from an old book, but it has three advantages over more recent alternatives:
      1. Gasquet quotes the most relevant writers from the time period of the Black Death In Italy in a compact bundle;
      2. The more recent translations of Boccaccio’s Decameron, the source that Gasquet quotes at greatest length, are not open access;  and
      3. Gasquet’s translations of the Italian writers of the 1300s get the cadences and tone right, whereas more recent translations of the Decameron update the language but lose the feeling of the original.

Additional Resources

Want to learn more? Below are other articles, videos, infographics, etc. that will provide further information on this week's topics.

May 26th: Literary Responses to Past Pandemics

May 27: Pandemics, Politics, and Pictures: Italian Art and the Black Death

Recommended Databases

Can't get enough? These databases have up-to-date scientific and academic research that can help you dig much deeper into any topic. Please note that OWU login credentials are required unless the resource is marked as open access. Please check your local public library for more resources.

May 26th: Literary Responses to Past Pandemics

May 27: Pandemics, Politics, and Pictures: Italian Art and the Black Death

Search Terms

Knowing what terms to use to search for resources on COVID19 is half the battle. For this week's lectures, we would recommend starting with the following keywords. 

May 26th: Literary Responses to Past Pandemics

  • Plague Literature
  • Literary Arts
  • Themes and figures
  • Pandemic
  • Sickness

May 27: Pandemics, Politics, and Pictures: Italian Art and the Black Death

  • Andrea Orcagna
  • Spanish Chapel
  • Santa Croce, Florence
  • Black Death
  • Plague
  • Visual Arts