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Epidemics in Western Society Since 1600 (Coronavirus COVID-19, SARS & other diseases)


About This Course

This course consists of an international analysis of the impact of epidemic diseases on western society and culture from the bubonic plague, HIV/AIDS and the recent experience of SARS, swine flu, and COVID-19 (Corona Virus). 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.


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Michael Williams

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Course Author

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Professor Frank Snowden

Frank Snowden is Andrew Downey Orrick Professor of History at Yale University. He received his Ph.D. from Oxford University in 1975. His books include Violence and Great Estates in the South of Italy: Apulia, 1900-1922 (1984); The Fascist Revolution in Tuscany, 1919-1922 (1989); Naples in the Times of Cholera (1995) and The Conquest of Malaria: Italy, 1900-1962 (2006). Conquest was awarded the Gustav Ranis Prize from the MacMillan Center at Yale in 2007, the Helen and Howard R. Marraro Prize by the American Historical Association, and the 2008 Welch Medal from the American Association for the History of Medicine.

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