This graduate seminar explores the impact of disease outbreaks on human society. It focuses on the social and political responses to disease, tracing changes and continuities in society’s efforts to understand and control various diseases. How have different societies, at different times, responded to disease outbreaks? What role have patients, medical practitioners, scientists, public health officials, the state, the church, international health agencies, the pharmaceutical industry, or even entrepreneurs played in response to specific disease outbreaks and medical challenges? Using a case study approach, this course will examine outbreaks that range in time and place, from the plague and smallpox to influenza and HIV-AIDS, among others. Questions relating to power, agency, class, race, gender and sexuality shall most certainly be discussed.
Has disease altered history? How have different societies, at different times, responded to disease prevention and outbreaks? This course focuses on the role of disease in history, examining how disease swept through cities, devastated populations, and transformed politics, public health and economies. Spanning the globe and ranging in time period from antiquity to present day, this course surveys medicine and society’s experience with, understanding of, and response to specific diseases, such as the plague, leprosy, cholera, smallpox, tuberculosis, influenza, HIV-AIDS and SARS. Several historical approaches will be emphasized in this course, including disease as a causative agent of change, disease as a mirror reflecting social processes, and disease as a way of illustrating theories and practices concerning health and medicine.