Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Honors Thesis


Modern Languages

First Advisor

Melissa Etzler


By March 2020, most of the world had gone into varying levels of lockdown to try to prevent further spread of what was proving to be a deceptively deadly disease: COVID-19, commonly referred to as “the Coronavirus.” One way to gauge the effect that a massive, traumatic event such as a global pandemic has on individuals is to analyze how those people write about their experiences. In this study, I examine what the German body of discourse contained and what it can teach regarding two major pandemics that fell one hundred years apart via Thomas Mann’s novella Der Tod in Venedig (Death in Venice) and Thomas Glavinic’s autofictional “Der Corona-Roman” (“The Corona Novel”). By finding common themes and subjecting them to various critiques and analyses, I discovered that the “German experience,” so to speak, was remarkably similar to those I was reading from my compatriots in English, if a bit blunter. I analyze these texts cross-linguistically to understand universal themes of experience during pandemic times, and how those views have changed across time and space, with four overarching topics: time, self-writing of illness, pandemic descriptions, and mortality. In this way, I show how readers are able to connect with the texts and use them to make meaning in their own lives.

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