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I’d like to talk about potential “silences” in the Journal of the Plague Year. Although the journal is shaping up to be a fantastic archive that future historians will surely make use of, it is not a perfect representation of life during the pandemic. In my view, the journal has certain assumptions built into it that tend to produce certain silences. The journal likely encourages contributions that show change rather than continuity. We tend to focus on what is different -- online school, perhaps not participating in large gatherings during the holidays, etc. -- rather than what is basically the same, and there is a lot about our pandemic world that is strikingly similar to the pre-pandemic world. For example, capitalism, and consumer capitalism in particular, has largely continued in its pre-pandemic mode with a few minor tweaks (masks, for example). Stores like Target, Wal-Mart, and Costco have not only been open but have been open for indoor shopping throughout the entire pandemic. Also, people have a tendency to believe that they are spending more time at home and online. While this may be true for some, the fact is that American life had been trending this way for a long time, with more and more people spending more time isolated at home and engaging in less face-to-face social interactions, being less involved in community groups and associations, etc. Lastly, in order to make a contribution to the journal, one needs to have access to the internet; of course, there is a percentage of the American public that lacks internet access and likely an even larger percentage of people worldwide that lack access to the internet.

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This item was submitted on January 28, 2021 by DEREK SHLOSS using the form “Share Your Story” on the site “A Journal of the Plague Year”:

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