The bubonic plague is the measure by which succeeding epidemics have long been measured. Its extreme virulence, horrible symptoms, and indiscriminate victim profile all contributed to making plague the archetypical worst-case scenario. For these same reasons, the plague is also an ideal test case for the thesis that epidemic diseases play a major role in shaping human history. Over the course of its three pandemics, the plague had major economic, religious, cultural and political implications for affected societies. In its wake, religious beliefs and medical practices were questioned, public authorities tested, and the social fabric strained.
Professor Snowden describes the final exam, and takes questions from students.
SARS, avian influenza and swine flu are the first new diseases of the twenty-first century. They are all diseases of globalization, or diseases of modernity, and while relatively limited in their impact, they have offered dress-rehearsals for future epidemics. As information about SARS spread...
The global AIDS pandemic furnishes a case study for many of the themes addressed throughout the course. While in the developed West the disease largely afflicts concentrated high-risk groups such as intravenous drug users and the sexually promiscuous, in Southern Africa it is much more a...