The COVID-19 pandemic challenged the capabilities of our modern healthcare infrastructure and forced us to reimagine everyday spaces as sites of convalescence and caretaking. As hospitals reached mass capacity, we had to question: what accommodations can we make to transform both private and public places into spaces of care? The same question motivated nineteenth-century debates over how to best tackle the century’s national health crises. At a time of high imperialism, rapid industrialization, and rampant contagion, Victorians realized that models of caretaking could no longer be relegated to the provincial sickroom. Nineteenth-century texts transport readers from convalescent resorts on the seaside to hospitals in the heart of London and on to medical tents in India. The changing landscape of caretaking brings up questions of individual and community, country and city, nation and empire. How do spaces of care across nineteenth-century literature represent historical models of health and actively conceptualize possible new models for caretaking? How does the increasing mobility of the British subject both worsen contagion and improve care? This panel asks: what is the relationship between space and care across nineteenth-century texts? This panel invites, but is not limited to, papers on affect, disability studies, spatial studies, nineteenth-century history of medicine, contagion, migration, settler colonialism, and novel studies.
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