Talk Offers Four Historic Pandemic Views

Dr. Marilyn McEntyre

Dr. Marilyn McEntyre

Four Westmont professors from different disciplines examine how the new coronavirus has forced us to adapt our daily lives in unexpected ways in a talk, “Plagues, Pandemics and Perseverance,” on Tuesday, Sept. 29, at 10 a.m. The pre-recorded presentation, sponsored by Westmont’s Voskuyl Library, features Marilyn McEntyre (humanities), Paul Willis (English), Helen Rhee (religious studies) and Lisa DeBoer (art) and are available online at youtube.com/westmontTV.

Dr. Paul Willis

Dr. Paul Willis

Although the pandemic has disrupted nearly every aspect of our lives, as a species, we’ve been through such upheaval multiple times. The talk will help contextualize our pandemic experience through brief recorded presentations spanning thousands of years of history within their respective fields.

McEntyre, an adjunct professor of urban studies for Westmont in San Francisco, journeys through western literature, including some gnarly predictions for San Francisco in 2073 by Jack London.

Dr. Helen Rhee

Dr. Helen Rhee

Willis, former Santa Barbara Poet Laureate, will read and comment on a few poems, some by Shakespeare during a bout of plague and some more current that speak into our human experience of the pandemic.

Dr. Lisa DeBoer

Dr. Lisa DeBoer

Rhee, professor of history of Christianity at Westmont for 16 years, will offer a talk, “Pandemic, Church and Suffering,” which addresses how the church has responded to pandemics in the past 2,000 years and what we can learn from these examples.

DeBoer, an art historian who writes on the role of visual art in worship, will talk about representations of the plague in art, part of a larger memento mori tradition, an artistic or symbolic reminder of the inevitability of death. She’ll briefly discuss specific effects of the 14th century’s bubonic plague on artistic developments in central Italy.