Pandemics and plagues function rhetorically, by doing violence to the structures of discourse, sociality, hospitality, and mutual engagement that characterize ethical human interaction. They infect us, as rhetorical subjects, and reorient our capacity for engagement. The coronavirus's “novelty” renders it uncertain as to how long it will last or who will be infected next; the near-uniform response to it has been a forced distance of ourselves from others and a displacement from our itineraries and our locations. Through COVID-19 we are learning that pandemic does violence to our sense of place, to how we think of respite, and has highlighted our sense of vulnerability in the midst of others.

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