What the Measles Epidemic Really Says About America

In two essays, “Illness as Metaphor” in 1978 and “AIDS and Its Metaphors” in 1988, the critic Susan Sontag observed that you can learn a lot about a society from the metaphors it uses to describe disease. She also suggested that disease itself can serve as a metaphor—a reflection of the society through which it travels. In other words, the way certain illnesses spread reveals something not just about a nation’s physiological health but also about its cultural and political health. ….[READ]