Epidemics in Western Society Since 1600

Course Number
HIST 234
About the Course

This course consists of an international analysis of the impact of epidemic diseases on western society and culture from the bubonic plague to HIV/AIDS and the recent experience of SARS and swine flu. Leading themes include: infectious disease and its impact on society; the development of public health measures; the role of medical ethics; the genre of plague literature; the social reactions of mass hysteria and violence; the rise of the germ theory of disease; the development of tropical medicine; a comparison of the social, cultural, and historical impact of major infectious diseases; and the issue of emerging and re-emerging diseases.

Course Structure

This Yale College course, taught on campus twice per week for 50 minutes, was recorded for Open Yale Courses in Spring 2010.

Syllabus

Professor
Frank Snowden, Andrew Downey Orrick Professor of History
Description

This course consists of an international analysis of the impact of epidemic diseases on western society and culture from the bubonic plague to HIV/AIDS and the recent experience of SARS and swine flu. Leading themes include: infectious disease and its impact on society; the development of public health measures; the role of medical ethics; the genre of plague literature; the social reactions of mass hysteria and violence; the rise of the germ theory of disease; the development of tropical medicine; a comparison of the social, cultural, and historical impact of major infectious diseases; and the issue of emerging and re-emerging diseases.

Texts

Brandt, Allan. No Magic Bullet. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987.

Barnes, David. The Making of a Social Disease: Tuberculosis in Nineteenth-Century France. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.

Chase, Marilyn. The Barbary Plague. New York: Random House, 2004.

Defoe, Daniel. Journal of the Plague Year. New York: Penguin, 2003.

Fenn, Elizabeth. Pox Americana. New York: Hill and Wang, 2001.

Snow, John. Snow on Cholera, New York: The Commonwealth Fund: Oxford University Press, 1936.

Snowden, Frank. The Conquest of Malaria. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2006.

Snowden, Frank. “Emerging and Re-emerging Diseases: A Historical Perspective,” Immunological Reviews. Vol. 225, Issue 1, pages 9-26, October 2008.

Snowden, Frank. Naples in the Time of Cholera. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

Verghese, Abraham. My Own Country. New York: Vintage Books, 1995.

Requirements

Midterm and final examinations, a course paper of six to eight pages, and weekly reading responses.

Grading

Midterm exam: 20%
Final exam: 40%
Course paper paper: 20%
Reading responses and class participation: 20%

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Course Books and Other Related Titles

Yale University Press offers a 10% discount on the books used in HIST 234 that it publishes, as well as on other related titles. A portion of the proceeds from your purchases will be donated for the ongoing support and development of the Open Yale Courses program.