[] The Plague and the Word

Ernest B. Gilman

in Plague Writing in Early Modern England

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print June 2009 | ISBN: 9780226294094
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226294117 | DOI:
[] The Plague and the Word

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This chapter contends that, in the English Reformation, the infliction of plague is to be understood fundamentally as a language event foreshadowed by, and issuing from, the Word—an event, therefore, fundamentally discursive, even before it became the subject of plague writing, an event that presents itself as a text to be read. The differences between English and Italian modes of plague representation help to illuminate this point, for in the world of Italian visual culture, not only the veneration of the plague saint but the ways in which the saint's mediation is understood as efficacious provide a resource of comfort and explanation in the face of epidemic disease. Put simply, in the Italian tradition, art relieves language of what would become, in England, the burden of accounting for the pestilence.

Keywords: plague; language event; plague writing; visual culture; epidemic disease; English Reformation

Chapter.  17961 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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