To Nhu Thanh Huynh

Andrew W. Mellon Undergraduate Fellow in the Humanities

20102011 Forum on Virtuality

To Nhu Thanh Huynh

Health and Societies, East Asian Studies

CAS, 2012

The Virtual Pandemic: Representations of H1N1 in the Vietnamese Online Newspapers

Epidemics, from the 14th century Black Death to the 1918 Spanish Flu, are dramatic moments in history not only because of their devastating consequences, but also because of the particular responses constructed by society in an attempt to make sense of them. In this study, I aim to examine the Influenza A (H1N1) pandemic-a media sensation in 2009 and 2010- as dramaturgically structured by narrative sequences and representations that move from increasing dramatic tension to heightened crisis and onto closure in the Vietnamese online newspapers. Specifically, I explore how the disease was defined and its causes were explained, what moral connotations were conveyed, and what solutions were recommended. Social representation theories and existing works on social representations of SARS and Ebola form the framework in which I analyze the significance and implications of these issues.