Apocalyptic Visions: Pandemics in Literature, Art, and the Movies


Marcel Danesi, PhD – Professor Emeritus, Anthropology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada

Series: Advances in the Arts; Fine Arts, Music and Literature
BISAC: LAN000000; LAN005050; SOC011000
DOI: 10.52305/XDGM5141

Apocalyptic Visions. Pandemics in Literature, Art, and the Movies by Marcel Danesi is a brilliant book. Original, learned, thoughtful and thought-provoking. Beautifully written, discriminating, memorable. An unassuming gem. A “must-read!” – Michael Lettieri, Professor, Vice-Dean, Academic Experience, University of Toronto Mississauga, Ontario; Principal Editor of Italica, Co-Editor of the journal, Cultura e Comunicazione

Pandemics and other catastrophic events have been the stimulus not only for inventions and discoveries in science, but also in literary modes of understanding the world. The latter were forged as “apocalyptic visions” of the world warning humans of extinction unless they changed their ways. Not only stories, but art works, painted on murals and canvas, tell the same kind of apocalyptic narrative, imploring humans to change their ways. This book is about the meaning and impact that such apocalyptic visions, ancient and contemporary, have had on human history. It is based on the premise that pandemics have changed the world socially, politically, and culturally. The main claim put forward is that pandemics have always been instrumental in introducing new creative forms of culture, from prose fiction to current-day memetic humor, through which people come to grips with the drastic changes that pandemics bring about. The cultural forms that served this purpose do not disappear but remain intrinsic in the overall cultural-historical paradigm of humanity.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1. The Bubonic Plague and the Birth of Fiction

Chapter 2. Plagues in Myth and Literature

Chapter 3. Pandemic Art

Chapter 4. Pandemics in the Movies

Chapter 5. COVID-19 and Virtual Culture


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