For this month’s roundup, 18thConnect.org is providing a sampler of materials for educators, students, and scholars. In non-fiction accounts, political and pedagogical documents, artifacts of visual culture, and more, the authors and artists collected here represent a variety of historical and contemporary voices from and about pandemics and epidemics of the 18th century. The documents shared constitute only a fraction of the resources available through 18thConnect.org, and we hope these voices inspire educators, students, and scholars to make connections from our century to the Long Eighteenth Century.
Our first resource features the collected letters of Robert Southey, English Poet Laureate. These letters, provided by Romantic Circles at the University of Maryland, contain Southey’s comments and observations during a resurgence of the plague in England and on the continent. His comments range from desolate to heartfelt to sarcastic, as we can see in this excerpt from his 1793 letter to Grosvenor Charles Bedford:
…rumour says, the plague has arrived in Bristol but rumour tells lies — the only plagues are domestic & I have plenty of those — the other I need not fear. in good health & spirits have I made my will — more from the wish of preventing impertinent curiosity than of indulging vanity. …. I am tired of politics — I am tired of this place — Life however has still temptations & I am not yet tired of myself — by the by I am tired of expecting your letter —
Please check out the gallery below for additional resources across a variety of genres. There is also a sample bibliography below with both primary and secondary readings.
Visit Romantic Circles for more on Robert Southey and his contemporaries.
Critical Sources for Further Reading Available via 18thConnect.org:
Barney, Richard A., and Helene Scheck. “Introduction: Early and Modern Biospheres, Politics, and the Rhetorics of Plague.” Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies 10, no. 2 (2010): 1–22.
Boluk, Stephanie, and Wylie Lenz. “Infection, Media, and Capitalism: From Early Modern Plagues to Postmodern Zombies.” Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies 10, no. 2 (2010): 126–47.
Gilman, Ernest B. “The Subject of the Plague.” Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies 10, no. 2 (2010): 23–44.
Silva, Cristobal. “Miraculous Plagues: Epidemiology on New England’s Colonial Landscape.” Early American Literature 43, no. 2 (2008): 249–75.
Zuckerman, Arnold. “Plague and Contagionism in Eighteenth-Century England: The Role of Richard Mead.” Bulletin of the History of Medicine 78, no. 2 (2004): 273–308.