The article is a narratological investigation of a selection of plague tales. The selection spans millennia and different text types, technologies and genres, from The Bible to apocalyptical films, iPhone games and testimonials from Médecins Sans Frontières. The research question is whether it is possible to establish a stable formula for plague narratives despite the spread over centuries and in different text types, and to explain this formula and possible variations of it. The initial and tentative hypothesis is that a formulaic narrative structure exists for accounts, both documentary and fictional, of epidemics. The samples include: Exodus, History of the Peloponnesian War, Samuel Pepys’ Diary, A Journal of the Plague Year, The Last Man, The Plague in Bergamo, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, Doomsday, The Dead Zone, World War Z. An Oral History of the Zombie War, Pandemic, Plague Inc. and testimonials from Médecins Sans Frontières about the 2014-15 ebola outbreak in West Africa.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAkademisk Kvarter
Issue numberOctober
Pages (from-to)15-29
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2015


  • plague
  • ebola
  • epidemic
  • pandemic

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