History | Sick! Disease, Culture and Society in the Modern World
W300 | 12478 | Maglen


A portion of the above class reserved for majors
Above class open to undergraduates and Education MA's only

Influenza and leprosy, syphilis and AIDS, breast cancer and diabetes-
-whether rare or pervasive, considered distant or ‘close to
home, ’disease has frightened and shocked, shaping identities, as
well as social and personal interactions. In this course, we will
examine how responses to epidemics and disease can provide insights
into the nature of effected societies, and we will begin to explore
how ideas about illness, contagion, risk, danger, and death are
shaped. The course will provide students with a better understanding
of how cultural assumptions – in the past and today – can shape the
experiences and outcomes of disease as much as knowledge produced in
the laboratory.

We will explore such ideas as: stigma and culpability, colonialism
and social control, the significance of epidemics in affecting
social and political change, popular representations and
understanding of disease, as well as popular resistance to public
health measures such as vaccination and quarantine. The geographical
scope of the course is broad and seeks to achieve a global
perspective although we will focus primarily on Europe and North
America.