In einem interdisziplinären Workshop des Teilprojekts C02 im Dezember 2019 gingen die Teilnehmer*innen aus Medizin-, Philosophie-, Kunstgeschichte und Altphilologie den Entwicklungslinien der Vigilanzsymbolik in der vormodernen Medizin nach. Den Ausgangspunkt bildete der alerte Hahn, der eng mit dem Werk des deutschen Chirurgen Wilhelm Fabry von Hilden (1560–1634) verbunden ist. Überlegungen und Vergleiche zur Metaphorik der Wachsamkeit in der vormodernen Medizin und in ihrer starken Hinwendung zur Antike standen im Fokus der Veranstaltung. Die im vorliegenden Working Paper gesammelten Beiträge diskutieren das Verhältnis der (Äskulap-)Schlange und des Hahns als weiteres Tiersymbol des Arztes bis hin zur Rolle des antiken Motivs der Hahn-Opfer an Asklepios nach erfolgreicher Genesung.
Aureo Lustosa Guerios is a PhD student at the University of Padua interested in Comparative Literature, Cultural History and Medical Humanities. His research surveys the literary representations of epidemic cholera in the 19th and early 20th centuries.He writes and presents the podcast “Literatura Viral” in Portuguese in which he discusses how epidemics influence history and art.He holds a master’s degree in “European Literary Cultures” and wrote his thesis on the Divine Comedy. While pursuing his BA in Brazil, Aureo’s research focused on literary modernism (Joyce, Baudelaire, Mann) and the translation of children’s literature (Dr. Seuss).
LF: Your PhD dissertation deals with literary representations of epidemic cholera in the 19th and 20th centuries. Can you tell us more about it?
ALG: My dissertation is part of a collective effort to address a gap in the research on this disease. Cholera was the great pandemic disease of the 19th century. It started to spread around 1817 and it circumnavigated the globe four or five times before the 1920s. From this point onwards, some believed that cholera had been eradicated. However, a new wave hit in 1961, which has never been declared over. Today we are still living in the 59th year of the 7th Cholera Pandemic. Cholera has been a scourge for so many and for so long, and it has definitely left its mark on literature and art. But this has often been neglected. Only in the last decades have literary scholars started to pay closer attention to representations of disease. However, most of them focus on tuberculosis and syphilis, so other diseases such as cholera, malaria, typhus or even the Spanish Flu have been ignored.
In this working paper the authors offer a review of the first medical and political reactions to the COVID-19 pandemic. Addresses to their nations made by political representatives of four European countries (Sweden, Italy, France and Germany), all of which were affected by the novel coronavirus at different times and with different severity levels, form the foundation of our study. How these addresses serve to legitimize restrictions to freedom and appeal to the sense of responsibility of citizens, reveals contrasting ways of controlling bodies in the interest of preserving health. Crucially, public health concerns are at the center of both types of pandemic control. Here, past promises of an all-powerful medical field, equipped to overcome any ailment and to reshape human life, clash with a reality in which the medical world in turn is reliant upon political and social dynamics. To the working paper