2021-2022 Undergraduate Academic Catalog

IAHIS 3240 The Art & Archaeology of Pandemics

Given our current global health crisis (and the associated social crises), the words epidemic and pandemic conjure immediate concerns over health and well-being, critical lifestyle changes, and a marked difference in how we collectively conceive, confront, and represent the future. Yet, the impact on human civilization triggered by epidemic crises is nothing new. In this course, we will study the effects of epidemics and pandemics on different cultures throughout history. Towards this end, we will examine how art and design have served to forge community bonds; how visual culture has changed in times of crisis; and how communities across the world, in different times and spaces, eventually find resilience in fundamentally altered worlds. Case studies will consider recent archaeological projects and art historical research that are causing scholars to reevaluate the ways in which diseases have prompted both cultural upheavals and artistic transformations. These case studies will include the Plagues of the Ancient Mediterranean World, the 14th century Black Death, the 16th century Great Dying, the Spanish Flu of 1918, AIDS and the current COVID-19 crisis.