#167 The Outbreak Narrative w/ Priscilla Wald


When we think of epidemics, we often imagine the central struggle as between microbe and epidemiologist. But as the coronavirus outbreak has reminded us, our individual actions can compound in ways that have a very real implications for any epidemic. The narrative we adopt to understand these events- ie the story we tell ourselves about who is responsible, who can save us, and what power we have in that struggle- shapes our decisions, and therefore shapes the outcome of these tragic moments. In this episode we speak with Dr. Priscilla Wald about her research on what she calls the “outbreak narrative” and how understanding it might help us respond better in the present.

Dr. Priscilla Wald is R. Florence Brinkley Distinguished Professor of English at Duke University and the author of Contagious: Cultures, Carriers, and the Outbreak Narrative, (Duke University Press, 2008).

The Road to Now is part of the Osiris Podcast Network. This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.