Disease and History (HIST*3310) | College of Arts

Disease and History (HIST*3310)

Code and section: HIST*3310*01

Term: Summer 2021

Instructor: Rebecca Beausaert


Disease and History HIST*3310*01

Term: Summer 2021
Instructor: Rebecca Beausaert

Method of Delivery:

A synchronous 180-minute lecture, delivered via Zoom, once a week. 

Course Synopsis:

This interdisciplinary course provides an introduction to the historical interactions between disease and human society from the Middle Ages to the present. Major themes may include the co-construction of disease and society; disease and urbanization; disease and colonialism; disease and globalization; disease and gender. 
Throughout the course, outbreaks of specific diseases such as the bubonic plaque, smallpox, cholera, syphilis, influenza, polio, and HIV/AIDS will be analyzed, and discussions will center around epidemiology, transmission, prevention, and the larger social, cultural, and economic impacts. Though largely focused on the Western world, attention will also be paid to how diseases have impacted humans on a global scale, especially how governments and public health authorities have attempted to curtail and control epidemics and pandemics. 

Course assessments aim to refine students’ research, writing, design, and oral communication skills. Assigned texts will consist of a selection of primary and secondary sources available online. 

Learning Outcomes:

By the end of the course, students should be able to:

  1. Identify the key infectious diseases that have had significant historical impact since the Middle Ages
  2. Explain how a variety of forces at play have contributed to the development and spread of infectious diseases at specific moments in time
  3. Understand how concepts of disease have changed over time 
  4. Demonstrate an ability to critically read and interpret primary sources and challenge the arguments and assumptions of secondary source materials
  5. Effectively debate and converse with their peers through discussions of lecture content and assigned course readings



Method of Evaluation and Weights:

Student Engagement - 10%
Online Discussions - 15%
Primary Source Analysis and Essay - 25%
Design-a-Poster Assignment - 20%
Take-Home Final Exam - 30%

Texts Required:

No texts need to be purchased for this course. Readings will consist of primary and secondary sources and other media available online or through Ares, the University of Guelph’s online Course Reserve system.

*Please note: This is a preliminary website description only. The department reserves the right to change without notice any information in this description. The final, binding course outline will be distributed in the first class of the semester.*