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Topics in History: Sickness, Health, and Medicine in Early America

From smallpox to yellow fever, epidemics have played a significant role in Early American history. How have these diseases and others affected people’s lives as well as historical events? What have people’s responses to epidemics been, and how have those responses informed social relations and perceptions, including those around health, bodies, community membership and emerging conceptions of race? This course will explore the ways in which illness and disease shaped and changed populations and societies in Early America. It will also examine various cultural approaches to sickness, health, and medicine, as we read about indigenous, African- and Euro-American medical traditions. Topics to be covered include “virgin soil” epidemics; the cultural and political aspects of medical practices; the role of disease in war; and various ways that race and social class affect people’s perceptions of, responses to, and experiences with illness and health. Open to first-year students.

Course Number

HIST 212 B2


Johnston, Katherine M.





Course Format


Course Format Description

Some remote synchronous and/or asynchronous meetings each week, as well as synchronous discussions. Discussions will be in person if room size allows.

Time Slot

Mid Morning



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