Swine flu. Zika. SARS. While these and other communicable diseases are biological phenomena, our efforts to contain them reveal a preoccupation with enforcing literal and metaphorical boundaries. In turn, our fascination with images of infection—from zombie fiction to news about “viral” cyber attacks—highlights a fear of contaminating “us” with “them.” In this Writing Seminar, students explored contagion from a bio-cultural perspective and ask: How is the spread of epidemics influenced by beliefs about race, gender, and culture? What are the limits of biomedical terminology in describing nonbiological threats?
Students developed podcasts centered on the idea of fictional contagions.