For the past few years, the American historian Joshua Teplitsky has been collecting materials to write a microhistory of an early 18th century outbreak of plague in Prague, focusing on the city’s large Jewish population. Suddenly, he found himself writing in the midst of a coronavirus outbreak – a “surreal” experience that has sharpened his focus on reconstructing “the quotidian, communal, and cultural aspects” of life under the shadow of death, and “the emotional foreboding that precedes the crest of an epidemic.”

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