• Sørine Amanda Nielsen
4. term, Danish, Master (Master Programme)
Corona has hit us: our country, our way of life, and our literature. With authors influenced by the global pandemic, a new thematic genre has appeared: the corona literature. This thesis defines the genre as literature written about the corona crisis, published after the virus found its way to Denmark. Within this framework, several works – ranging from short stories to poetry and monologues – have been chosen for an analysis to shed light on the defining features of corona literature as a thematic genre: Jeg vil ikke tilbage (2020) by Caspar Eric, I dag skal vi ikke dø (2020) by Louise Juhl Dalsgaard, Der danse ren virus (2020) by Jesper Wung-Sung, Standby (2021) by Frida Hjeresen, Coronamonologerne (2020) arranged by Teater Republique, the collection of poems posted on Information’s website, the collection of short-stories Hvor du er (2020), and the anthology Luk up for et lukket land (2020) by Ordskælv. In order to establish the status of corona literature as an individual genre, the chosen works are analyzed using the theories of trauma, illness, and eco-literature. Through this, the analyses illustrate the similarities and differences between corona literature and the three established genres.
In the theories of Michelle Balaev, Kali Tal, et al. – who all rely heavily on the theories of Sigmund Freud – trauma literature is defined as literature that revolves around processing the memory of trauma. With this understanding of trauma literature, the analyzed corona literature cannot be defined as such since the crisis the literature describes is still unconcluded – it cannot be a memory if it takes place in the present. Instead, corona literature reflects upon the lack of trauma or others’ trauma, relying on the theories of Judith Butler. Thus, corona literature is not devoid of the presence of trauma, however, it cannot be regarded as trauma literature – at least not yet.
Illness literature – according to the theories of Virginia Woolf, Susan Sontag, Peter Stein Larsen, Jens Lohfert Jørgensen, et al. – results in a focus on illness, bodies, isolation, and virus. Instead of the illness, corona literature focuses on the physical and mental afflictions caused by the virus and the global crisis. In corona literature, healthy people can still be ill, and isolation is both a place of opportunity and suffering. Contrary to previous literary trends, the body no longer presents an active role in corona literature, but instead, the virus becomes the powerful and active object which can both connect and divide humanity. As a result, corona literature focuses more on the virus and its power rather than the illness itself.
Trends from eco literature become evident in the discussion of blame found in corona literature, where theories from Laura Wright, Timothy Clark, Gregers Andersen, Peter Stein Larsen, et al. present nature as an active agent that will judge humanity and take revenge as a result of the exploitation of nature. The virus is perceived to be such an act of revenge, and with Timothy Morton’s concept of dark ecology, corona literature reflects on how humanity and nature are intertwined, and who is to blame for this crisis. The discussions found in eco-literature are therefore present in corona literature, however, the latter revolves around more than climate change.
Through these analyses, certain repetitions create the following points of characteristics that will occur in a work of corona literature: a) a perspective of time (the time before, during, or after the crisis), b) the positive or negative values from the crisis, b) the physical or mental corona-illness, and d) the placement of guilt. These categories are presented as methodological tools for further work with the new thematic genre as the analyses have proven that the previous established genres cannot contain it.
In summary, corona literature showcases different fates, thoughts, feelings, etc. about a crisis that keeps individuals isolated. From a post-critical perspective, this loneliness creates the need for corona literature. The theories of Rita Felski and Svend Brinkmann illustrate how such literature can help us come to terms with our own reactions to the crisis that has turned the world upside down. The future of corona literature will be affected by how literature will continue to reflect on our developing relationship with the crisis. Corona has left an impact: in our way of life, collective memory, and our literature.
Publication date31 May 2021
Number of pages79
ID: 413265268