This year’s Avie Bennett Historica Canada public lecture will be given by Professor Esyllt Jones from the University of Manitoba.
While COVID-19 has generated intense recent interest in the Great Influenza (1918-1920), that event was long referred to as the 20th century’s “forgotten” pandemic. With no “Great Men” to canonize, or moment of victory to celebrate, the influenza pandemic was largely excluded from national histories. Yet for a century its effects lingered in the lives and memories of its survivors.
This paper uses work by writer Alice Munro to suggest a new interpretation of how pandemic disease survivors remembered their experiences, and how those intimate histories interacted with large-scale social forces and upheavals. By placing the experiences of ordinary men and women in the centre of the frame, it explores not only whether the pandemic was forgotten or remembered, but also by whom, and in what ways.