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The Bard and Pandemic: Surviving Plague in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet

April 20 @ 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm



“A plague o’ both your houses!”
– “Romeo and Juliet”, Act 3, Scene 1, Line 90

Pandemic is something we have all become familiar with in recent years, but so was William Shakespeare!

Dr. Ariane Balizet, Professor of English and Associate Dean for Faculty and DEI in the AddRan College of Liberal Arts at Texas Christian University, will discuss pandemics in the context of the pandemic depicted in Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”, the black death.

When Mercutio curses the Montague and Capulet families with a “plague,” he is doing so out of anger and desperation. But plague was a dangerous reality in Shakespeare’s time and plays a crucial role in “Romeo and Juliet”.  In fact, the play’s tragic end is sealed when a message to Romeo is delayed because the messenger was exposed to the bubonic plague.

The tale of Romeo and Juliet can give us new insight on the relationship between pandemic and literature, from metaphors comparing falling in love to “catching the plague” to the material consequences of closing the London playhouses to prevent disease. Studying Shakespeare’s “star-crossed lovers” in terms of plague may even give modern audiences and readers a deeper appreciation for the beauty that persists in the face of death and disease.

This presentation will be viewable in person or streaming virtually via Zoom.  Register to watch remotely or join us at the Central Library’s 7th floor O’Hara Hall.

This program was generously funded by the Friends of the Dallas Public Library


Dr. Ariane Balizet is the author of two books – “Shakespeare and Girls’ Studies” (2019) and “Blood and Home in Early Modern Drama: Domestic Identity on the Renaissance Stage” (2014) – and many articles on Renaissance literature and culture, Shakespeare and adaptation, and Girls’ Studies. At TCU, she regularly teaches classes on Renaissance literature in Plague Years; Health, Illness, and Disability in Shakespeare; Renaissance Girlhoods, and Shakespeare in Adaptation. She has been the recipient of the TCU Deans’ Teaching Award, the Liberal Arts’ winner of the Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Achievement as a Teacher-Scholar and was TCU’s nominee for the statewide Piper Professor Award in 2022.


April 20
1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
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Dallas Public Library
(214) 670-1740
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J. Erik Jonsson Central Library
1515 Young St.
Dallas, Texas 75201
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(214) 670-1400
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