Spectacles of Decline: A Symposium on the Waning British Empire

Elizabeth Outka

Professor of English, University of Richmond

Elizabeth Outka’s latest book, Viral Modernism: The Influenza Pandemic and Interwar Literature (Columbia University Press 2020), investigates how one of the deadliest plagues in history—the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic—silently reshaped the modernist era, infusing everything from T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, to the emergence of viral zombies, to the popularity of séances. She is the recipient of numerous awards and grants, including a Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the 2020 South Atlantic Modern Language Association Book Prize. 

Outka has written on topics ranging from consumer culture, to postcolonial representations of trauma, to disability studies. Her first book, Consuming Traditions: Modernity, Modernism, and the Commodified Authentic (Oxford University Press 2009; 2012) explored the marketing of authenticity in turn-of-the-century British literature and culture. Her essays have appeared in Modernism/modernityNOVELContemporary LiteratureThe Paris Review Daily and many edited collections.  

She teaches courses on modernism, twentieth- and twenty-first century Anglophone literature, the contemporary novel, the literatures of war, environmental literature, social change and modern drama, and women in literature. She received her B.A. from Yale University and her M.A. and PhD from the University of Virginia.  

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