Epidemics in Western Society Since 1600

Open Yale


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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.

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Cosa impari in questo corso?

Asiatic Cholera
Pandemic Influenza


Lecture 1 Introduction to the Course

Lecture 2 Classical Views of Disease: Hippocrates, Galen, and Humoralism

Lecture 3 Plague (I): Pestilence as Disease

Lecture 4 Plague (II): Responses and Measures

Lecture 5 Plague (III): Illustrations and Conclusions

Lecture 6 Smallpox (I): "The Speckled Monster"

Lecture 7 Smallpox (II): Jenner, Vaccination, and Eradication

Lecture 8 Nineteenth-Century Medicine: The Paris School of Medicine

Lecture 9 Asiatic Cholera (I): Personal Reflections

Lecture 10 Asiatic Cholera (II): Five Pandemics

Lecture 11 The Sanitary Movement and the "Filth Theory of Disease"

Lecture 12 Syphilis: From the "Great Pox" to the Modern Version

Lecture 13 Contagionism versus Anticontagionism

Exam 1 Midterm Exam

Lecture 14 The Germ Theory of Disease

Lecture 15 Tropical Medicine as a Discipline

Lecture 16 Malaria (I): The Case of Italy

Lecture 17 Malaria (II): The Global Challenge

Lecture 18 Tuberculosis (I): The Era of Consumption

Lecture 19 Tuberculosis (II): After Robert Koch

Lecture 20 Pandemic Influenza

Lecture 21 The Tuskegee ExperimentLecture 22AIDS (I)

Lecture 23 AIDS (II)

Lecture 24 Poliomyelitis: Problems of Eradication

Lecture 25 SARS, Avian Influenza, and Swine Flu: Lessons and Prospects

Lecture 26 Final Q&A

Exam 2 Final Exam