First published in 1849, Charles Averill’s The Cholera-Fiend follows three villains as they attempt to artificially propagate cholera for their own villainous purposes in New York City. Gumbo, a Black servant to one of the villains, is meant to be the humorous relief in the text, but Gumbo experiences a calculated dehumanization from human to disabled, which causes him to be more at-risk for a health crisis—such as a tapeworm or cholera—than his white counterparts. Through analyzing the genre of cheap fiction, the views of medical professionals towards Black bodies, and other ways Black bodies were used as entertainment, I will argue that Gumbo’s character is representative of the disadvantages directed towards Blacks in times of health crisis—a social crisis within the wider health crisis.
College and Department
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Harrington, Sariah Fales, "The Cholera-Fiend: Cheap Fiction, Medical Professionals, and Entertainment" (2022). Theses and Dissertations. 9782.
disability, antebellum America, Charles Averill, health crisis, cholera, cheap fiction