Ben Dodds

Mar 6, 2023

Myths and Memories of the Black Death

Palgrave MacMillan 2022

Ben Dodds, of the Florida State University, talks with Jana Byars about his new book, Myths and Memories of the Black Death (Palgrave, 2022). This book explores modern representations of the Black Death, a medieval pandemic. The concept of cultural memory is used to examine the ways in which journalists, writers of fiction, scholars and others referred to, described and explained the Black Death from around 1800 onwards. The distant medieval past was often used to make sense of aspects of the present, from the cholera pandemics of the nineteenth-century to the climate crisis of the early twenty-first century. A series of overlapping myths related to the Black Death emerged based only in part on historical evidence. Cultural memory circulates in a variety of media from the scholarly article to the video game and online video clip, and the connections and differences between mediated representations of the Black Death are considered. The Black Death is one of the most well-known aspects of the medieval world, and this study of its associated memories and myths reveals the depth and complexity of interactions between the distant and recent past.

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Jana Byars is an independent scholar located in Amsterdam.

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