Dark zones: The ebola body as a configuration of horror

Catherine Belling*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Scopus citations


Ebola virus disease has a media presence and imaginative traction disproportionate to its statistical probability in most parts of the world. This chapter attributes that rhetorical power to a particular figurative structure, the “Ebola body," which has the topology of an opaque receptacle subject to rupture. Reading Richard Preston’s The Hot Zone as an influential poetics of the Ebola body, metonymic across scales, from the geomorphic body of an infected patient through the anthropomorphic landscape of the Congo, Belling argues that the Ebola body is a topos locating what, after both Julia Kristeva’s account of the abject and Joseph Conrad’s account of the Congo, we can identify as horror-and that this horror may be endemic to the experience of human embodiment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEndemic
Subtitle of host publicationEssays in Contagion Theory
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9781137521415
ISBN (Print)9781137521408
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences
  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Medicine


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