From devastating infectious epidemics to the quiet suffering of malnutrition, health problems have both affected and reflected the evolution of modern society. The course will study four different historical periods, exploring such issues as:
- the effects of individual habits, environmental conditions, and medical innovation on public health;
- the role of ethics, economics, and politics in medical decision making;
- the changing health problems of the disadvantaged, including Native Americans, women, Blacks, immigrants, and workers;
- the changing meaning of concepts like "health," "disease," "cause," and "cure";
- the dissemination and impact of medical discoveries; and
- the changing organization and power of the healing professions.
We will focus on American history, although comparisons will be drawn to other societies.
Reading assignments will range from modern histories to poetry and old medical journals.
- Warner and Tighe, Major Problems in the History of American Medicine and Public Health Houghton Mifflin (2001).
- Leavitt and Numbers, Sickness and Health in America, 3nd edition Wisconsin (1997)
- Rosenberg, The Cholera Years Chicago
- Crosby, The Columbian Exchange Greenwood
- De Kruif, Microbe Hunters
- Morantz-Sanchez, Sympathy and Science UNC
- Course pack from Dollar Bill
This is a challenging and demanding course.
There will be two essay-style examinations, and frequent short quizzes.
The course is a basic introduction, however, first-year students must obtain permission of the professor to enroll.
Classes are taught in lecture format with discussion sections, and will include a variety of audio-visual sources.