2018 Student Research Conference:
31st Annual Student Research Conference

Mary Shelley's Plague: Reasonable or Ridiculous?


Brooke T. Barnette
Dr. Bob Mielke, Faculty Mentor

The Last Man is a novel written by Mary Shelley that was first published in 1826. In this story, the human race is all but wiped from the face of the earth by a deadly plague. Upon learning that it is a science fiction novel, many people jump to the conclusion that the plotline and the plague that drives it are only that: fiction. However, taking a look into the theoretical biology behind such a plague shows us that Mary Shelley’s imagination was not running so wild after all. The war between man and disease (an evolutionary arms race) is a battle like many others: the weak are eliminated and the strong survive, recuperate, and refine their technique. Eventually, there is usually a winner and a loser. The question that haunts mankind is this: what happens if disease becomes too strong for the human race to defeat?

Keywords: The Last Man, science fiction, deadly plague, biology, evolutionary arms race

Topic(s):English
Biology

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 102-1
Location: MG 1090
Time: 8:00

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