In this book, I explore the way the development and later widespread acceptance of germ theory at the end of the 19th century changed interpersonal relationships, provoking the vast majority of people into self-protective isolation that ushered in the era of looking out for “a number 1” that we have today. Along with this shift came the loss of a broader community-oriented mindset that sought a common good. Each chapter covers a different disease (black plague, strep, tb, syphilis, and typhoid) as a lens through which to explore a different interpersonal relationship changed by disease (sexual relationships, father-daughter, motherhood, friendship), while also considering the political questions each disease raised more broadly.
‘Kept from All Contagion’: Germ Theory, Disease, and the Dilemma of Human Contact in Late Nineteenth-Century Literature. Forthcoming, SUNY UP May 2020.
Novels, periodicals, nonfiction scientific texts
Journal of a Plague Year by Daniel Defoe
The Last Man by Mary shelley
Washington Square by Henry James
The Woodlanders by Thomas Hardy
Ghosts by Henrik Ibsen
The Woman Who Did by Grant Allen
Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
The Well-Beloved by thomas Hardy
John Marchmont’s Legacy by Mary Elizabeth Braddon
East Lynne by Ellen Wood
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
The Story of a Modern Woman by Ella Hepworth Dixon
Giorgio Agamben, Bruno Latour, Michel Foucault, and many, many others.