Article ID: CBB726446334

Closure and the Critical Epidemic Ending (2022)


“An epidemic has a dramaturgic form,” wrote Charles Rosenberg in 1989, “Epidemics start at a moment in time, proceed on a stage limited in space and duration, following a plot line of increasing and revelatory tension, move to a crisis of individual and collective character, then drift towards closure.” Rosenberg's dramaturgic description has become an important starting point for critical studies of epidemic endings (Vargha, 2016; Greene & Vargha, 2020; Charters & Heitman, 2021) that, rightly, criticize this structure for its neatness and its linearity. In this article, I want to nuance these criticisms by distinguishing between the term Rosenberg uses, “closure,” and its implicature, “ending.” I aim to show how many of the complications ensuing between the different forms of ending imagined may well be resolved by assessing whether they bring closure or not.

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Authors & Contributors
Tomes, Nancy J.
Reverby, Susan M.
Stevens, Rosemary A.
Rogers, Naomi
Jiménez-Lucena, Isabel
Molero-Mesa, Jorge
Bulletin of the History of Medicine
Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences
Dynamis: Acta Hispanica ad Medicinae Scientiarumque Historiam Illustrandam
Centaurus: International Magazine of the History of Mathematics, Science, and Technology
Medizinhistorisches Journal
Manchester University Press
Amsterdam University Press
Public health
History of medicine, as a discipline
Historical method
Rosenberg, Charles E.
Ackerknecht, Erwin H.
Time Periods
21st century
20th century, late
20th century
19th century
18th century
Great Britain
South Asia
Hong Kong
Latin America
North America

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