Article ID: CBB993436916

Memory and the Representation of Public Health Crises: Remembering the Plague of Provence in the Tricentennial (October 2021)


From May 1720 through the summer of 1722, the French region of Provence and surrounding areas experienced one of the last major epidemics of plague to strike Western Europe. The Plague of Provence (or “Great Plague of Marseille”) represents a major eighteenth-century disaster that left in its wake as many as 126,000 deaths. Over the last three hundred years, commemorative artworks have memorialized the disaster and helped define how it is remembered. To help mark the tricentennial, this essay will examine a series of images portraying different aspects of the Plague of Provence. In particular, it will analyze how these images depict what I argue are two central themes in the art of the Plague of Provence: Marseillais civic virtue and the medical profession. Doing so reveals how these subjects were valued or perceived in the first decades of the eighteenth century, and why this matters today as we confront new contagious diseases including COVID-19.

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Authors & Contributors
Archambeau, Nicole Ann
Bennett, Michael J.
Erkoreka, Anton
Heefner, Gretchen
Prescott, Heather Munro
Richmond, Marsha L.
Nuova Rivista di Storia della Medicina
Berichte zur Wissenschaftsgeschichte
Environmental History
Histoire des Sciences Médicales
Intellectual History Review
Isis: International Review Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences
Cornell University Press
Biblioteca dei Leoni
Edizioni Dedalo
Mauro Pagliai Editore
Public health
Memorials; commemorations
Darwin, Charles Robert
Jenner, Edward
Pettenkofer, Max Josef con
Shakespeare, William
Ludovico Settala
Time Periods
17th century
18th century
Republic of Venice (697–1797)
14th century
19th century
20th century, early
United States
Munich (Germany)

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