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Once Upon A Virus

Once Upon A Virus

Diane E. Goldstein
Copyright Date: 2004
Pages: 232
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    Once Upon A Virus
    Book Description:

    Out to see America and satisfy his travel bug, W. T. Pfefferle resigned from his position as director of the writing program at Johns Hopkins University and hit the road to interview sixty-two poets about the significance of place in their work. The lively conversations that resulted may surprise with the potential meanings of a seemingly simple concept. This gathering of voices and ideas is illustrated with photo and word portraits from the road and represented with suitable poems. The poets are James Harms, David Citino, Martha Collins, Linda Gregerson, Richard Tillinghast, Orlando Ricardo Menes, Mark Strand, Karen Volkman, Lisa Samuels, Marvin Bell, Michael Dennis Browne, David Allan Evans, David Romtvedt, Sandra Alcosser, Robert Wrigley, Nance Van Winckel, Christopher Howell, Mark Halperin, Jana Harris, Sam Hamill, Barbara Drake, Floyd Skloot, Ralph Angel, Carol Muske-Dukes, David St. John, Sharon Bryan, Donald Revell, Claudia Keelan, Alberto Rios, Richard Shelton, Jane Miller, William Wenthe, Naomi Shihab Nye, Peter Cooley, Miller Williams, Beth Ann Fennelly, Natasha Trethewey, Denise Duhamel, Campbell McGrath, Terrance Hayes, Alan Shapiro, Nikki Giovanni, Charles Wright, Rita Dove, Henry Taylor, Dave Smith, Nicole Cooley, David Lehman, Lucie Brock-Broido, Michael S. Harper, C. D. Wright, Mark Wunderlich, James Cummins, Frederick Smock, Mark Jarman, Carl Phillips, Scott Cairns, Elizabeth Dodd, Jonathan Holden, Bin Ramke, Kenneth Brewer, and Paisley Rekdal.

    eISBN: 978-0-87421-510-6
    Subjects: Sociology
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Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations
  1. Front Matter (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. VII-VIII)
  3. Acknowledgments (pp. IX-XII)
  4. Introduction Philosophizing in a War Zone (pp. XIII-XVI)

    Aids activist and cultural theorist Paula Treichler once commented that speaking of AIDS as a symbolic and linguistic construction “may seem politically and pragmatically dubious, like philosophizing in the middle of a war zone” (1999:4). She continued,

    But . . . making sense of AIDS compels us to address questions of signification and representation. . . . Language is not a substitute for reality; it is one of the most significant ways we know reality, experience it, and articulate it; indeed language plays a powerful role in producing experience.” (1999:4)

    Once Upon a Virus is a book about how AIDS...

  5. 1 “Tag, You’ve Got AIDS” HIV in Folklore and Legend (pp. 1-23)

    One Sunday afternoon as I worked in the garden of my house in St. John’s, I was distracted by five children playing tag in the neighbor’s yard. The game didn’t seem to be very different from the one I had played as a child. In that game, the one whom we called “it” ran around trying to catch the others, ultimately gaining on someone enough to touch them and thereby transfer “itness.” This would then free up the former “it” to run and require that the new person in that role be the chaser. When the transfer happened, the chasing...

  6. 2 Bad People and Body Fluids Contemporary Legend and AIDS Discourse (pp. 24-54)

    In 1989, versions of a story circulating around St. John’s asserted that a local teenager was covertly but deliberately causing damage to the condoms on display in local drug stores. One woman told the story as follows:

    My friend Marcia told me this story. She said her friend thinks she even knows who did it. Anyway, this guy finds out he’s got AIDS and he’s mad and he wants to get back at the whole world, so he goes into a drug store. And he borrowed his grandmother’s hat pin. So, when nobody is looking he takes the pin and...

  7. 3 Making Sense Narrative and the Development of Culturally Appropriate Health Education (pp. 55-76)

    Lazzaro Timmo, a Tanzanian journalist, reported one day observing a thirty-five-year-old Waarusha man reading a poster explaining that to avoid infection with HIV one should “have sex with only one faithful partner.” The man burst into laughter. “What am I going to do with my other wives?” he asked. Timmo noted that the man had three wives and was thinking about marrying a fourth if the harvest was good the following season. He commented, “To tell . . . [him] to relate to only one faithful partner is like telling him to get rid of his other wives, who are...

  8. 4 What Exactly Did They Do with That Monkey, Anyway? Contemporary Legend, Scientific Speculation, and the Politics of Blame in the Search for AIDS Origins (pp. 77-99)

    Cross-culturally, traditional narratives have consistently displayed an interest in the issue of origins. Etiological (or origin) tales form a significant part of most folktale collections, providing narrative explanations for such issues as how the moon got in the sky or why the mouse has such a long tail.¹ In part, these narratives envisage a world that predates the one we know today; and perhaps our long time fascination with origins is, at least in part, about nostalgic or historical fantasy. But etiological tales also speculate about how we came to our current state of being, how the things that we...

  9. 5 Welcome to the Innocent World of AIDS Cultural Viability, Localization, and Contemporary Legend (pp. 100-115)

    The headline on the front page of the St. John’s EveningTelegram on April 22, 1991, announced “Bizarre AIDS Story Likely a Concocted Tale.” The article went on to discuss a rumor about a person who knowingly transmitted the HIV virus and an inquiry into the rumor conducted by the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary’s Criminal Investigation Unit. The story under investigation was not the bar pickup story extensively circulating around the world at that time. It was not the story of a man who meets a woman in a local bar, sleeps with her, and awakens to find the message “Welcome to...

  10. 6 “Billy Ray Virus” The Folk Creation and Official Maintenance of a Public Health Scapegoat (pp. 116-138)

    The cultural adaptation of the “Welcome to the World of AIDS” narrative, discussed in the last chapter, can be seen as instructive in terms of the articulation of local health attitudes otherwise not easily assessed or expressed in the survey forms normally used in knowledge, belief, and behavior studies. It stops short, however, of actually demonstrating the direct impact of the narrative on daily life and interaction. This chapter takes the story a step further, out into the community where the legend creates a kind of “master narrative” poised to leap into interstitial gaps in knowledge and comprehension (Wycoff 1996)....

  11. 7 “Banishing All the Spindles from the Kingdom” Reading Needle-Prick Narratives as Resistance (pp. 139-156)

    On May 13, 1999, another AIDS legend made its way onto the pages of the St. John’s Evening Telegram in an article entitled “HIV Cyber-hoax Spreading Concern.” The so-called cyber-hoax in question was a narrative being forwarded by anonymous e-mails, warning of HIV-infected needles placed in movie theater seats, pricking unsuspecting moviegoers and infecting them with the virus. The news report quoted a portion of the e-mail message:

    For your information, a couple of weeks ago, in a movie theatre a person sat on something sharp in one of the seats. When she stood up to see what it was,...

  12. 8 Once Upon a Virus Public Health and Narrative as a Proactive Form (pp. 157-178)

    The stories told on the pages that precede this chapter are not just entertaining tidbits of dinner conversation but rather the incredibly powerful narrative core of personal and collective action. This is not to say that we are slaves to the stories we hear, going out and enacting each narrative plot or including all narratives uncritically in the body of information we hold to be true. But the narratives we hear and tell dovetail with our cultural life, becoming slotted in holes in information, explicating unresolved issues, challenging unpopular dominant constructions, asserting the importance of cultural truths in the construction...

  13. Appendix Index to Legends and Legend Types (pp. 179-181)
  14. References Cited (pp. 182-200)
  15. Index (pp. 201-210)