Cultural Histories of the Great Flu Pandemic of 1918-1919: Representations and Memories

February 19-21, 2019, Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany

Attacking in three waves, from the spring of 1918 into early 1919, in a short time span of just several months, the so-called ‘Spanish Influenza’ pandemic wrecked unparalleled havoc. Nevertheless, until relatively recently the study of this massive global catastrophe suffered from historiographical neglect in comparison to other major events in the twentieth century. It was largely subject to cultural oblivion in the public sphere, though vivid recollections were retained in more private settings. The centennial of pandemic offers a timely opportunity to redress some of the glaring lacunae in the historiography to date, especially the relative dearth of studies of cultural history and memory.

The conference/workshop sets out to explore a global-transnational cultural history of the Great Flu by examining representations of the pandemic in different countries and societies from the time of the events to the present day, with a particular emphasis on considerations of remembrance, forgetting and rediscovery.


Prof. Guy Beiner, Ben Gurion University of the Negev
PI of ‘Forgetting and Remembering the Great Flu: Laying the Foundations for a Global-Transnational History of Cultural Amnesia and Rediscovery’ (ISF 1150/17).

Dr Steffen Bruendel, Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt
Director of Frankfurt Humanities Research Centre

Dr Cynthia Gabbay, Freie Universität Berlin
Alexander von Humboldt Fellow

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Posted: January 25, 2019