Évora University – 12, 13 and 14 October 2022

The Eighth International Congress of the Portuguese Comparative Literature Association, “Intersecting perspectives: Representations of Epidemics in the Arts. From Catastrophe to Resilience”, organised by Universidade de Évora and Universidade da Madeira, will look at fundamental interest in conducting research into catastrophic epidemics such as the Black Death, Spanish Flu, cholera and AIDS. They all wrought profound changes in ways of life and in forms of human relationships.

The Covid-19 pandemic has taken the form of a global crisis, which has caught humankind off guard and shattered their view of the world. It has triggered trauma, fears and high anxiety and caused unexpected ruptures in culture and the economy, among other areas. Over time, the different arts (cinema, dance, photography, literature, painting and digital art) have been able to depict the bafflement caused by different epidemics and have enabled the different languages to explore the allegorical value of chaos, denounce societies’ dysfunctions and question the value of humanity. An epidemic is a limit-experience of uncertainty and unpredictability that questions man’s relationship with his finitude.

In this comparative encounter, for example, we will explore how the visual arts, literature, dance and music express a warning of “the teaching of catastrophe” (2002:73), as Peter Sloterdijk put it: it is possible to learn in the midst of the wreckage and (re)create in a context of adversity.

In the context of this comparative examination of the chaos and crises caused by pandemics, we would like to invite the academic community to reflect on the different configurations of epidemics from antiquity to the present day based on the following subjects:

  • Representations and rereadings of the different epidemics
  • epidemic, catastrophe and trauma
  • the epidemic as an allegory of society
  • epidemics and moral decline
  • epidemics and ruptures in accepted discourses
  • the epidemic and apocalyptic representation
  • epidemics and testimonies
  • the pandemic, philosophy and the society of control
  • epidemics and dystopia
  • the epidemic and new post-pandemic utopias
  • isolation as a driver of creativity
  • epidemics and resilience