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How does COVID compare to plagues throughout history? Shakespearean literature has answers

The Plague Epic in Early Modern England: Heroic Measures, 1603–1721
Rebecca Totaro
The Plague Epic in Early Modern England: Heroic Measures, 1603–1721

In this interview with author Rebecca Totora, we explore ways our response to the pandemic might have similarities to other plagues, and how writers like William Shakespeare responded.

When the bubonic plague swept through Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries, very few official records were kept that described what everyday people were experiencing.

"There were histories about plague that might include demographics - how many people died. "But, up until about the 1700s, there were diaries, there weren't newspapers as we know them," says author Rebecca Totaro, whose work focuses on plagues in history through the lens of literature. "So, to find out what was the human experience of plague what we have are writings."

Among her books are on plague and early modern disaster are Meteorology and Physiology in Early Modern Culture and The Plague Epic in Early Modern England: Heroic Measures, 1603-1721.

Totoro, an English professor at Florida Gulf Coast University, helps us learn some plague history in this interview with Gulf Coast Life. Explore ways our modern response to the COVID-19 pandemic might have similarities to plagues in history, and how writers responded.

Just click on the Listen button above to hear the discussion.

Copyright 2022 WGCU. To see more, visit WGCU.

Mike Kiniry is producer of Gulf Coast Live, and co-creator and host of the WGCU podcast Three Song Stories: Biography Through Music. He first joined the WGCU team in the summer of 2003 as an intern while studying Communication at Florida Gulf Coast University.
Tara Calligan