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25 September 2020
The Brontës: Sickness, Contagion, Isolation
“The interactions that make us sick also constitute us as a community. Disease emergence dramatizes the dilemma that inspires the most basic human narratives: the necessity and danger of human contact.” Priscilla Ward, Contagious: Cultures, Carriers, and the Outbreak Narrative. Duke UP, 2008.
All over the globe, people are now directly experiencing the dilemma Priscilla Ward describes here, as we re-evaluate those necessities and dangers, as well as our desires for, and instincts toward, human contact. These “basic human narratives” were also familiar to the Brontës, and informed much of their writing. This highly topical Special Issue of Brontë Studies, informed and inflected by the present moment, will reflect on the many ways sickness, contagion, and isolation appear in the lives, works, and critical and popular discussions of the Brontës.
Contributions may take inspiration from potential connections with our own contemporary moment, and papers which focus on the following themes are especially welcome:
- Contagion anxieties in the Brontës’ lives and works: where and how did the Brontës encounter or understand contagion, rather than miasma, weather, or individual vulnerability, as a threat to health?
- Protecting and sustaining body and self: how does sickness threaten the subject as well as the body in the Brontës' lives and works?
- Sickness and community
- Sickness and stigma
- Cure, management, diagnosis: how are diseases determined, or their threat mitigated?
- Sickness, identity, individuals: how do class, gender, nationality, or age constitute or affect the experience of sickness?
- Isolation and the Brontës: isolation as enforced state and/or a preventive measure.
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This Special Issue is an unprecedented opportunity to place the Brontës in dialogue with an urgent and global phenomenon. As such, the process for submission and reviews will be somewhat tighter than usual.
- Deadline for proposals (300 word abstract plus brief bio including title and email address): 25 June 2020
- Following review of proposals, authors of short-listed proposals will be invited to submit full-length essays for review by: end of July 2020
- Completed articles of 6000 words due for editorial review: 25 September 2020
- Revised manuscripts due: 25 November 2020
- Publication: Spring 2021
Please send proposals to Dr Jo Waugh
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