Date of Award

8-2016

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

English

Program

English

First Advisor/Chairperson

Dr. Russell Prather

Second Advisor

Dr. Lisa Eckert

Abstract

This project examines José Saramago’s Blindness (1996) in the context of two other narratives focused on plagues and epidemics – Daniel Defoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year (1722) and Albert Camus’ The Plague (1947) – each written at different points in time during the development of clinical medicine as chronicled by Michel Foucault’s Birth of the Clinic. The paper draws heavily upon Foucault’s work on clinical medicine, as well as a number of different theories of medical history, government policy, and cultural attitudes towards health and illness. The goal of the project is twofold: first, to examine how the traditional elements in narratives of plague interact with and change in the presence of the relatively new phenomenon of clinical medicine, and second, to understand how Saramago’s Blindness reveals and critiques these changes via a term I dub post-clinical. This demonstrates the ability of literary plague narratives to both understand and critique the medical industry at large.