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Cultural Impacts of the Bubonic Plague

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Max Tell

on 28 May 2014

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Transcript of Cultural Impacts of the Bubonic Plague

Cultural Impacts of the Bubonic Plague
My Research
Upon determining my topic, I began to research my topic to determine a thesis and find information to support my thesis. In my research, I used a variety of sources from the Discovery Service to the Internet.
The Research Process
I did not anticipate that this process would be easy, due to my unconventional topic. As a result, my research did not yield a multitude of sources.
My research was founded on the effect of the bubonic plague, a zoonotic disease which is transmitted by fleas. This disease has sprung up throughout human history in a plethora of outbreaks. One of the most famous of these outbreaks is known as the Black Death. This outbreak occurred during the Middle Ages and had a great effect on the world. This particular outbreak is the focus of my research.
The bubonic plague is a deadly disease, having a profound effect on the communities affected by this pestilence. Culture is the result of the collective experiences of a community. Thus, the bubonic plague had an extensive cultural impact on the affected population. As a result, the cultural impacts of the bubonic plague became a logical topic for my project.
Having decided on my topic and finished researching this theme, I formulated the following thesis based on the information found.
"In particular, the bubonic plague has had a great effect on culture throughout the world. Specifically, the bubonic plague has greatly changed painting, literature, and religion during each of its outbreaks."
Research Findings
In my paper, I attempted to analyze the effects of the bubonic plague on three specific areas of culture:


In my analysis, I strove to illustrate specific correlations between culture and the bubonic plague.
The Spread of the Black Death
Correlation between the Black Death and Printing in the Following Years
Proliferation of Printing in Europe
Painting was profoundly influenced by the Black Death. The origination of the theme, the Dance of Death, in paintings of artists such as Bernt Notke can be attributed to the Black Death. Similarly, more subtle reminders of death can be found in paintings like those of Hans Holbein the Younger. Finally, the overarching motif of cynicism can be ascribed to the effects of the Black Death on artists of the time.
As in painting, the effects of the bubonic plague were certainly noticeable in literature. Once again, cynicism played an important thematic role in the writings of many at the time. The presence of the Black Death in literary works demonstrates its innate importance. One such example of the can be found in the writings of Samuel Pepys. Additionally, the Black Death greatly influenced the points of view of many authors as seen the works of Petrarch.
The effects of the bubonic plague were deeply felt in religion. In the case of the Black Death, this influence was especially pronounced. The constant presence of death led to the formation of two different camps. One of these groups was brought closer to the Church by the Black Death. The other group, however, drifted away from the Church and led decadent lives. In a similar way, a group of extreme penitents called the flagellants developed during this time. These adherents were whipped in various ways to pay penitence.
The results of the Black Death were certainly important and diverse. However, the role of the bubonic plague in cultural change cannot be understated. The bubonic plague irrevocably changed the collective experiences of those affected. Thus, the bubonic plague had a profound impact on culture, particularly in the areas of painting, literature, and religion.
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