2023-2024 Catalog

FYS 30 Pandemics, Publics, and the Pursuit of Health

Pandemics, Publics, and the Pursuit of Health” examines the social and cultural dimensions of pandemics, epidemics, and disease outbreaks as they impact both the U.S specifically, and the U.S. as part of a world where viruses travel despite national, political, or otherwise constructed borders. This critical health studies course, informed by fields of medical humanities and disability studies, focuses on the social and cultural ways in which diseases have been framed and understood over time. The social and cultural contexts in which pandemics and epidemics emerge, through language, cultural representations, and media framing, produce meaning as much as the biological and scientific ways in which diseases carry and transmit meaning. Beginning with our common knowledge of the ongoing pandemic of COVID-19 as a starting point, we will continue to consider the U.S. perspective to various other pandemics throughout history including: the plague, smallpox, tuberculosis, polio, HIV/AIDS, SARS, Ebola, and drug epidemics such as those of crack cocaine and opioids. We will conclude the course by thinking more deeply about COVID-19 and about monkeypox. Our theoretical and analytic approach will be informed from ongoing social justice movements and activism, including harm reduction, mutual aid, and disability justice. Open only to first year frosh.


4 units