In the last decade of the nineteenth century, malariology emerged as the most prestigious and intellectually exciting field in the new discipline of tropical medicine. The disease's complexity and resistance to conventional public health strategies posed a major challenge to doctors and scientists. Plague measures and social hygiene had no effect in curbing malaria, and the disease proved difficult to classify. The case of Italy, and the malaria eradication program of 1900-1962, furnished a model for other efforts across the world. In evaluating the Italian campaign, it is important to distinguish between valuable lessons and warnings for future efforts, and in particular to account for the diversity of strategies responsible for its success.
Reading assignment: Snowden, The Conquest of Malaria
This course consists of an international analysis of the impact of epidemic diseases on western society and culture from the bubonic plague to HIV/AIDS and the recent experience of SARS and swine flu. Leading themes include: infectious disease and its impact on society; the development of public health measures; the role of medical ethics; the genre of plague literature; the social reactions of mass hysteria and violence; the rise of the germ theory of disease; the development of tropical medicine; a comparison of the social, cultural, and historical impact of major infectious diseases; and the issue of emerging and re-emerging diseases.
Course Structure: This Yale College course, taught on campus twice per week for 50 minutes, was recorded for Open Yale Courses in Spring 2010.