LHUMK/History 4393.01/History 5393.01:

Disease and Society from Antiquity to the Present

Wednesdays, 6-8 (UAMS students), 6-8:40 (UALR students)
Medical Humanities Conference Room
Freeway Medical Building, 5th floor
Laura Ackerman Smoller, Ph.D.
Office hours:  Tuesday, 3-4; Wednesday, 10:30-11:30, and by appointment
Office:  Stabler Hall (UALR) 604K
Phone:  569-8389
email:  lasmoller@ualr.edu




Week 1.  August 29.  Introduction:  Ways of thinking about disease and society.


Week 2. September 5.  Disease as an agent of historical change.


William McNeill, Plagues and Peoples (New York, 1975), pp. 1-13, 146-50, 160-65;
Barbara Alice Mann, The Tainted Gift: The Disease Method of Frontier Expansion (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger/ABC Clio, 2009), chapter 2 (“‘The Land of Death’: The Choctaw Removal into Cholera, 1832”), pp. 19-41.


Lecture:  A history of histories of disease.



Week 3.  September 12.  The social construction of disease.


Elaine Showalter, Hystories:  Hysterical Epidemics and Modern Culture (New York, 1997), chapter 8 ("Chronic Fatigure Syndrome"), pp. 115-32; 

David Tuller, "Fallout from Fatigue Syndrome Retraction is Wide," New York Times, February 6, 2012;
Burkhard Bilger, "Letter from Kentucky:  Squirrel and Man," The New Yorker (July 17, 2000): 58-67.


Lecture:  Disease and "Others."


Week 4.  September 19.  Different cultures, different understandings of disease.


Anne Fadiman, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down:  A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures  (New York:  The Noonday Press, 1997), pp. vii-ix, 1-11, 20-23, 38-49, 140-53, 171-80, 250-61 (optional:  278-88).


Lecture:  Disease and medicine in the ancient world.


Week 5.  September 26.  The Hippocratic understanding of disease and the perils of retrospective diagnosis.


Hippocrates, Epidemics, Book 1:  1-10; Fourteen Cases, in J. Chadwick and W. N. Mann, trans., Hippocratic Writings, pp. 87-93, 102-112;
Piers D. Mitchell, "Retrospective Diagnosis and the Use of Historical Texts for Investigating Disease in the Past," International Journal of Paleopathology 1 (2011): 81-88.


Lecture:  The medieval view of disease.


Week 6.  October 3.   Leprosy in the medieval world.


R. I. Moore, The Formation of a Persecuting Society (Oxford, 1987), pp. 45-65, 73-80;
Ritual of Separation of a Leper, from the Old Sarum Rite;
Carole Rawcliffe, Leprosy in Medieval England (Woodbridge, UK:  Boydell, 2006), pp. 13-29, 39-43 (optional: 302-14, 343).


Lecture:  The experience of plague.


Week 7.  October 10.  Plague in early modern Europe.


Carlo Cipolla, Faith, Reason, and the Plague in Seventeenth-Century Tuscany (New York, 1979), pp. 1-85 (small pages and a fast read!).


Lecture:  The emergence of the "French pox."


Week 8.  October 17.  Syphilis in early modern Europe.



Claudia Stein, "The Meaning of Signs: Diagnosing the French Pox in Early Modern Augsburg," Bulletin of the History of Medicine 80 (2006): 617-48;

Eugenia Tognotti, “The Rise and Fall of Syphilis in Renaissance Europe,” Journal of Medical Humanities 30 (2009): 99-113.


Lecture:   The cholera epidemics of the nineteenth century.


Week 9.  October 24.  Cholera.


Richard J. Evans, "Epidemics and Revolutions:  Cholera in Nineteenth-Century Europe," in Terrence Ranger and Paul Slack, eds., Epidemics and Ideas: Essays on the Historical Perception of Pestilence (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), pp. 149-73;
Epidemic Cholera: Its Mission and Mystery, Haunts and Havocs, Pathology and Treatment: With Remarks on the Question of Contagion, the Influence of Fear, and Hurried and Delayed Interments (New York: Carleton, 1866), chapter 11 ("Is Cholera Contagious?"), pp. 88-100. (The entire book is available online at http://pds.lib.harvard.edu/pds/view/7218055.)


Lecture:  The progressive era and the science of eugenics


Week 10.  October 31.  "Degeneracy," "defectives," euthanasia, and eugenics.


Martin S. Pernick, The Black Stork:  Eugenics and the Death of "Defective" Babies in American Medicine and Motion Pictures since 1915 (New York and Oxford, 1996), pp. 1-18, 81-99;

Kim Severson, "Thousands Sterilized, a State Weighs Restitution," New York Times, December 10, 2011, p. A1.

Lecture:  Feminism, the "new woman," and gender anxiety in the late 19th century



Week 11. November 7. No class this week.


Activity: Media watch.


You will report on November 14 on one newspaper article, magazine article, radio or TV news story, movie, or TV show dealing with disease. (Bring the article, a radio or TV transcript if available, or your own brief written summary of your story, as well as an outline of your remarks in lieu of the normal write-up of the reading.) What is the interaction between disease and society in your piece? What assumptions about disease and health lie behind it?


Week 12.  November 14.  Technology and disease: hysteria.


Rachel P. Maines, The Technology of Orgasm:  "Hysteria," the Vibrator, and Women's Sexual Satisfaction (Baltimore:  Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999), ch. 1, pp. 1-20; 
Helen King, "Galen and the Widow: Towards a History of Therapeutic Masturbation in Ancient Gynaecology," Eugesta 1 (2011): 205-35.


Optional film viewing:

Hysteria (2011).


Lecture:  The emergence of AIDS.


Week 13. November 21.  No class (Thanksgiving holiday).


Week 14. November 28. Venereal diseases in modern America.


Allan M. Brandt, "The Syphilis Epidemic and Its Relation to AIDS,"  Science 239 (1988):  375-80;
Upton Sinclair and Eugene Brieux, Damaged Goods (1913),  pp. 10-19, 26-29, 40-41  (entire text on-line at:  http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/webbin/gutbook/lookup?num=1157);
Paul Monette, Borrowed Time:  An AIDS Memoir (San Diego, New York, and London, 1988), pp. 1-26.


Lecture:  The coming plague?


Week 15. December 5. Emerging threats?


Laurie Garrett,  "Flu Season," Foreign Policy, January 5, 2012 (http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/01/05/flu_season);
Nancy K. Bristow, American Pandemic: The Lost Worlds of the 1918 Influenza Epidemic, chapter 2 ("'The Whole World Seems Up-Side-Down: Patients, Families, and Communities Confront the Epidemic"), pp. 40-82.






Course requirements for UAMS seniors:


Course requirements for UALR students: 



Grades for UAMS students will be computed as follows:

Reading responses--60%
Class participation--40%

Grades for UALR undergraduates and graduate students will be computed as follows:

Reading responses--30%
Final paper--35%
Meeting intermediate deadlines for the research project--20%
Class participation--15%

Grades are computed on the following scale:



In case of some mix-up, it is a good idea to save all returned work until you receive your grade at the end of the semester.


Student learning objectives for the history major:

1.  Demonstrate a significant degree of knowledge about both United States and World history through completion of a broad selection of courses in history.
2.  Ask appropriate historical questions that demonstrate an understanding of the discipline of history and distinguish it from those of other disciplines.
3.  Distinguish between primary sources and secondary sources used in the writing of history and know how to use and analyze each appropriately. Students will thus be able to:
a.   Analyze a primary source as a product of a particular historical context;
b.   Respond critically to a secondary source, taking into account the primary sources used by the historian, the historian’s methodology, the logic of the argument, and other major interpretations in the field.
4.  Present historical analysis and arguments in a clear written form, including the ability to construct an argument by marshalling evidence in an appropriate and logical fashion.
5.  Write a research paper that asks a significant historical question, answers it with a clear thesis and a logical argument, supports it with both primary and secondary sources documented according to the standards of the Chicago Manual of Style, and is written in clear and artful prose with the grammar and spelling associated with formal composition.


Students with disabilities: Your success in this class is important to me, and it is the policy and practice of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock to create inclusive learning environments consistent with federal and state law. If you have a documented disability (or need to have a disability documented), and need an accommodation, please contact me privately as soon as possible, so that we can discuss with the Disability Resource Center (DRC) how to meet your specific needs and the requirements of the course. The DRC offers resources and coordinates reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities. Reasonable accommodations are established through an interactive process among you, your instructor(s) and the DRC. Thus, if you have a disability, please contact me and/or the DRC, at 501-569-3143 (V/TTY) or 501-683-7629 (VP). For more information, please visit the DRC website at www.ualr.edu/disability.


Classroom etiquette:   Please turn off cell phones and beepers before entering the classroom or set them to a silent alert; do not read or send text messages in class.  In the rare event you must enter late or leave class early, please let me know in advance.         


Cheating and plagiarism:  Cheating and plagiarism are serious offenses and will be treated as such.  ("Plagiarism" means "to adopt and reproduce as one's own, to appropriate to one's use, and incorporate in one's own work without acknowledgment the ideas of others or passages from their writings and works."  See Section VI, Code of Student Rights, Responsibilities and Behavior, Student Handbook, p. 64.  Copying directly from a website or an encyclopedia article without quotation marks or an identifying citation, even if you change a word here and there, for example, constitutes plagiarism.)  Anyone who engages in such activities will receive a failing grade in the course and will be turned over to the Academic Integrity and Grievance Committee for University disciplinary action, which may include separation from the University.


Copyright notice:  Copyright © by Laura Smoller as to this syllabus and all lectures.  Students and auditors are prohibited from selling notes during this course to (or being paid for taking notes by) any person or commercial firm without the express written permission of the professor teaching this course.