Miraculous Plagues: An Epidemiology of Early New England Narrative

Front Cover
Oxford University Press, Aug 3, 2011 - Literary Criticism - 256 pages
In the summer of 1629, John Winthrop described a series of epidemics that devastated Native American populations along the eastern seaboard of New England as a "miraculous plague." Winthrop was struck by the providential nature of these waves of disease, which contributed neatly to the settlers' justifications for colonial expansion. Taking Winthrop's phrase as its cornerstone, Miraculous Plagues re-imagines New England's literary history by tracing seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century epidemics alongside events including early migration, the Antinomian controversy, the evolution of the halfway covenant and jeremiad, and Boston's 1721 inoculation controversy. Moving beyond familiar histories of New World epidemics (often referred to as the "virgin soil" model), Cristobal Silva identifies epidemiology as a generic category with specialized forms and conventions. Epidemiology functions as both subject and method in Silva's argument, as he details narratives that represent modes of infection, population distribution, and immunity. He considers how regional and generational patterns of illness affected the perception of communal identity, and he analyzes the translation of epidemic events into narrative and generic terms, providing scholars a new way to conceptualize the relationship between immunology and ideology. Closing with a discussion of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, Miraculous Plagues underscores the portability of its insights into the geopolitics of medicine. Just as epidemiology aided in transforming colonial America, it continues to influence questions of geography, community, and identity that are bound up in global health practices today.
 

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Contents

Introduction
3
1 New England Epidemiology
24
2 Vectors of Dissent
62
3 Puritan Immunology
101
4 Technologies of Inoculation
142
Afterword
180
Notes
193
Works Cited
223
Index
231
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2011)

Cristobal Silva is Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University.

Bibliographic information