HIST 1915: The Black Death: Plague in History

3 CreditsFreshman Seminar

In 1348, the disease that would be called the Black Death (the second pandemic) swept west from Central Asia to Europe, where it quickly annihilated up to 60% of Europe's population in the years 1347-1352. This was neither the first nor the last occurrence of this dreaded disease in world history. The Justinianic Plague of the 6th century (the first pandemic) was devastating as well. Plague recurred again and again, with the third pandemic coming at the end of the 19th century. The effects of the plague on the social fabric of the societies with which it came into contact were considerable, but so were the psychic effects, and the religious, intellectual, medical, and artistic worlds felt compelled to attempt to understand what the plague was, as well as its grander philosophical and moral implications. This course will consider the modern scientific advances in understanding the disease and the medieval sources that document its devastation.

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