The Spanish Flu Narrative and Cultural Identity in Spain, 1918

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2013-08-21
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
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Though once relegated to the proverbial dustbin of history, the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic is now widely recognized as the most devastating disease outbreak in recorded history. This cultural history sets out to reconstruct Spaniards' collective experience of the flu, and to trace the emergence of competing narratives that arose in response to contemporary bacteriology's failure to explain or contain the disease's spread. As author Ryan A. Davis demonstrates, when a society loses its most significant means of understanding an event of this magnitude, it must turn elsewhere for answers. What Spanish narratives of the flu shared was a discursive anxiety revolving around the preservation of a particular notion of national identity - one that was particularly apparent in the journalistic accounts of the period.

Author Biography

Ryan A. Davis is Assistant Professor of Spanish in the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures at Illinois State University, USA. His research on nineteenth- and twentieth-century Spain focuses on the intersection between literary and medical discourses, articulations of national and individual subjectivity, and, more recently, 'fringe' discourses like hypnotism. His published work has appeared in the Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies, Revista de Estudios Hispánicos, Decimonónica, and Ometeca. He is the co-editor of The Spanish Influenza Pandemic of 1918–1919: Emerging Perspectives from the Iberian Peninsula and the Americas (forthcoming).

Table of Contents

Introduction: Epidemic Genre and Spanish Flu Narratives

1. Mundane Mystery: Framing the Flu in the First Epidemic Wave

2. Borders and Bodies: The Second Wave Begins

3. A Tale of Two States: Between an Epidemic and a Sanitary Spain

4. Figuring (Out) the Epidemic: Don Juan and the Spanish Flu

5. Imagining the Epidemic Nation: Citizens, Characters, and Cartoons

Conclusion: A Telling Epidemic, a Storied Nation

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