In the decades immediately following the French Revolution, Paris was at the center of a series of major developments in medical science, sometimes described as the transition from medieval to modern medicine. Although the innovations associated with the Paris School were in large part products of the ideological and institutional transformations brought on by the Revolution, they belong to a long list of challenges to the Galenic orthodoxy of "library medicine." Successive scientists and physicians had questioned the exclusive commitment of medicine to interpreting ancient texts; in the hospitals of Paris, a new medical epistemology, focused on empirical observation and the diagnosis of specific diseases, was put into practice.
Reading / Film assignment: Snowden, Naples in the Time of Cholera, chapters 1-4 Film: The Horseman on the Roof
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.