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

Disease and History (HIST*3310)

Code and section: HIST*3310*01

Term: Winter 2022

Instructor: Rebecca Beausaert


Department of History – Winter 2022
HIST*3310*01: Disease and History
Instructor: Dr. Rebecca Beausaert
Email: rbeausae@uoguelph.ca

Method of Delivery:

This is a blended learning course. Each week, one 80-minute lecture will occur in person and one 80-minute lecture will occur via Zoom. Lectures are scheduled for Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:00-2:20pm. 

Course Synopsis:

This course examines the history of disease in the Western world beginning with pestilence in the Middle Ages and concluding with COVID-19 in the twenty-first century. The course will largely focus on how acute and infectious diseases have impacted humans and their environments. Using case studies of various diseases, such as plague, smallpox, cholera, tuberculosis, and syphilis, we will look at how each had broader social, cultural, political, economic, religious, medical, and environmental impacts. Course discussions and assigned readings will help students see how disease has been socially constructed over time, and why popular understandings about health and disease have been shaped by the historical contexts in which they occurred.

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                    15%
Online Discussions                    15%
Primary Source Analysis and Essay            25%
Infographic Poster Assignment                15%
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 web course 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.**