The influenza pandemic of 1918–1919 took the lives of between 50 and 100 million people worldwide, and the United States suffered more casualties than in all the wars of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries combined. Yet despite these catastrophic death tolls, the pandemic faded from historical and cultural memory in the United States and throughout Europe, overshadowed by World War One and the turmoil of the interwar period. In Viral Modernism, Elizabeth Outka reveals the literary and cultural impact of one of the deadliest plagues in history, bringing to light how it shaped canonical works of fiction and poetry.
Sarah Cole is Parr Professor of English and Comparative Literature and Dean of Humanities at Columbia University. A specialist in literary modernism, she is the co-founder of the NYNJ Modernism Seminar and director of the Humanities War and Peace Initiative at Columbia.
This event is organized as part of the “Columbia Collaborations” initiative, which brings Columbia University departments and institutions together to create topical and thought-provoking programs for an international audience. In partnership with Columbia University Press, the Institute for Ideas and Imagination, Columbia Maison Française, the Alliance Program, and Columbia University Libraries.