May 13, 2015 SSHM Research Seminar with Dr Mark Davis: “Is it going to be real? Narrative and media on a pandemic”

We are delighted to announce next SSHM Seminar on May 13, 2015.  Dr Mark Davis (School of Social Sciences, Monash University, currently a visiting scholar at SSHM)  will talk about “Is it going to be real? Narrative and media on a pandemic”.

Dr Mark Davis

Dr Mark Davis

Where: Room S0.13, Strand Campus

When: 13/05/2015 (13:00-14:30)

Mark’s research focusses on the sociology of public health, including: narrative and health; the cultural mediation of pandemics, emerging infectious diseases and the ‘superbugs’ crisis; transformative technologies and the public health system, including social media, self-testing and self-diagnosis, and; communications and public trust in the expert knowledge systems of biomedicine.


Public responses to pandemics – Avian influenza, SARS and H1N1 are recent examples – are typically understood as problems of risk communication and motivation of behaviour, or, less often, in terms of framing analyses and audience reception. This paper offers an alternative, narrative-oriented analysis of the address to publics and their conduct in time of pandemic. Communications feature in global public health efforts to address the emergence of a pandemic, an event typically marked by the proliferation of news stories. Pandemics are also a perennial subject of film, television, literature and online games and pandemic narratives travel across and blend the genres of science fiction, alien invasion and zombie horror. Underlining this genre-blending, public health communication experts have recently appropriated the figure of the zombie to encourage interest in preparation for pandemic threats. This paper advances an account of transmediated pandemic narrative as the context within which public health authorities call on citizens to take action. It draws on examples from public communications and popular culture in dialogue with interviews and focus groups on pandemic influenza conducted with health professionals and members of the general public. It considers how pandemics become objects of knowledge in narrative, the ways in which narrative is appropriated to communicate temporality and affect, and how, in the circumstances of an actual outbreak, publics are invited to consider themselves as the ideal, ‘alert, but not alarmed’ subjects of the pandemic story world.

Next Seminar SSHM Seminar Series:

Dr Janet Malek , Associate Professor(Department of Bioethics and Interdisciplinary Studies,   Brody School of Medicine,  East Carolina University) A Duty to Use Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis for Medical Benefit?”

3 June 2015, 13:00-14:30, Room K0.16

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