Same as it Ever Was, But Different: The Changing Legacy of Victorian Contagion Studies in a Post-Pandemic World


  • Kari Nixon


Those few of us who have made our careers by contemplating Victorian notions of contagion were, perhaps, surprised to find the public suddenly hungry for the topic in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic’s beginnings. Not that the topic was ever a seemingly esoteric choice to those of us who selected it as our field specialty, but while most academic research is by definition found amid niche topics, to be a self-avowed ‘contagious disease scholar’ before COVID-19 was typically met with surprise, even from other niche academics. Thus, while the relevance of contagion to society was always, perhaps, clear to those of us ‘niche’ specialists, we were not, generally, wont to find others so keenly aware of the relevance of our studies to modern life.