Bingeing on Doom: Expert on the ‘Black Death’ Attracts Cult Following

Before COVID-19, Purdue University English professor Dorsey Armstrong was well known in a way that only other enthusiasts of medieval literature and culture might appreciate.

That is to say, she once got a discount on a replica of an Anglo-Saxon drinking horn — made from an actual cattle horn — because a guy at a conference recognized her.

“That’s the only time I felt famous,” said Armstrong, an expert in medieval studies who heads the English department at Purdue in Indiana. “I got a really cool drinking horn. And whenever I teach ‘Beowulf,’ I bring it out and I pass it around.”

But since the start of the pandemic, Armstrong, 49, has gained a whole new level of acclaim for her Old World expertise. She’s the narrator of “The Black Death: The World’s Most Devastating Plague,” a video series that became must-see TV this spring when it aired on Amazon

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