Literature & Film in Lockdown

Literary accounts teach us that plagues and pandemics have recurred sporadically throughout human history; that sooner or later, they pass; that the timing of their passing is maddeningly unknowable; and that in the meantime, people must come up with strategies to psychologically navigate the strange, silent waters of life in lockdown.
Apr 18, 2024

Top 10 Learning Moments

  1. Although literature is not usually a resource for self-help, in the case of pandemics it can be. It offers a framework for us to attach our experiences to in order to be able to process them.
  2. We are a gregarious species with a physiological and biological need to be around other people. Right now, we perceive other people and other people’s bodies as threats to our wellbeing. – Barry McCrea.
  3. Because you have to abstract individual experiences into a collective story to turn it into history, you lose the intimate feeling of living through something that each individual has to go through. I think fiction is helpful because it can tell us what it feels like to be in a pandemic, to be one person in a pandemic. – Barry McCrea.
  4. A stage of exceptionality makes normality somehow more visible. – Barry McCrea.
  5. People after a plague are not the same as they were before. We see that a survivor is not the same person they were coming into the plague. – Barry McCrea.
  6. We are unable to live without a social structure and a routine to manage our time. Living through and emerging from a pandemic requires a reconstruction of social order and time structure.
  7. When humans no longer have the external stimuli of the outside world, the internal mind compensates by running rampant.
  8. At some point during one’s experience of a plague, what was once thought of as a deviation from normal life becomes the new normal.
  9. The present should be treasured. The future is unknowable and cannot be planned for, so meaning should be gleaned from the situation one is currently in.
  10. Everyone’s experience of a pandemic is different and the timing of each stage of acceptance varies for each individual.

Interested in learning more?

This series is hosted by ThinkND, the University of Notre Dame’s online learning community that connects you with videos, podcasts, articles, courses, and other resources to inspire minds and spark conversations on everything from faith and politics to science, technology, and your career.

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Featured Speakers

Barry McCrea, Professor of English and the Donald R. Keough Family Professor of Irish Studies at the University of Notre Dame

Lisa Caulfield, the Director of the Notre Dame Global Center at Kylemore Abbey

“We are a gregarious species with a physiological and biological need to be around other people. Right now, we perceive other people and other people’s bodies as threats to our wellbeing.”

(Barry McCrea)

Watch Series Extras

Explore the Kylemore Abbey Global Centre YouTube