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Directed Reading: Urban Epidemics: Pandemics/​Pandemonium, Past and Present

Course Number
7000 (Reading Courses & Research Projects)
Course Instructor(s)
Anne-​Emanuelle Birn

Course Description

Cholera. “Kansas” Influenza. Covid-19.  What makes pandemics emerge at particular historical moments and why do they provoke pandemonium? This seminar uses historical, epidemiological, film, eye-witness, and literary sources to explore disease outbreaks and societal responses from ancient to modern times across the world.  Examining cases such as plague in Florence and Surat, cholera in Tehran and Guadalajara, HIV/AIDS in New York and Kampala, and SARS in Toronto and Beijing, we seek to understand the socio-political and ecological factors shaping epidemic dynamics, the cultural politics of blame/responsibility, and the interactions of global political economy with governmental, scientific, and civil society responses.