Plague Markings: Doors & Disease. / Brookes, Ed.

Markings on Houses . ed. / Ian Strange. Dancing Foxes Press, 2021.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter



Throughout history practices of marking the home have often been used to convey urgent information about the ‘health’ of its inhabitants. These strategies frequently target the ‘door’ or ‘entrance’ to the household, as it presents a porous boundary between public and private spheres. This chapter therefore engages with several historical examples that examine how the ‘door’ has been marked during periods of ‘death’ and ‘disease’ in order to prevent further spread of contagion. Specifically, it explores the use of the ‘Plague Cross’ during the Great Plague of London in 1665, which became a means to manage and regulate the movement of the infected. This is contrasted with modern-day forms of inscribing the door and how the use of the ‘Plague Markings’ have re-emerged in the wake of numerous humanitarian crises, including Hurricane Katrina and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. My discussion considers that whilst these forms of inscription often serve valuable public health functions, they are also embroiled in a distinct politics of regulation and control. In many cases, marking sites of ‘contamination’ facilitates the categorisation of the ‘Other’ which defines who and what is able to enter society. Inscribing the door thus becomes an act of ‘the powerful’, signalling who is able to exert control over the body and the threshold.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMarkings on Houses
EditorsIan Strange
PublisherDancing Foxes Press
Publication statusSubmitted - 21 May 2021

ID: 42749916