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Students in HIST 228: The Global History of Pandemics explore the histories of epidemics in multimedia projects

Dr. Aditi Sen's HIST 228: The Global History of Pandemics examines the history of major epidemics and draws connections to the present day structuring of health care policies and public health programs. Germs have spread globally due to human contact and still continue to play a critical role in shaping global politics. Dr. Sen's course covers the history of the bubonic plague, smallpox, influenza, cholera, tuberculosis, and AIDS, and in so doing, examines the associated economic, religious, and socio-political changes and the ways these epidemics contributed to globalization.

For their final course project, HIST 228 students were tasked with completing historical analyses of a selected diseases in a medium of their choosing. We are pleased to share two particularly creative projects from History students Caryn Xie and Valentina Sperini: 

Caryn Xie's "In Defence of Lepers and Leprosaria: Leprosy as the 'Holy Disease,'" presents the history of leprosy in the form of a book with medieval illustrations. Caryn examines the history of leprosy through the perspective of a Christian group who runs a leprosarium, a hospital or place of care for people with leprosy. 

For her project, "Typhoid Mary: A History of Disease and Public Health," Valentina Sperini reimagines a crime board (or 'murder map') to explain the interrelated factors that led to the spread of the disease. To explore the cultural stigmatization of the disease, Valentina uses a case study of Mary Mallon, or "Typhoid Mary," an Irish immigrant identified as an individual "healthy carrier" of typhoid who had directly infected almost 50 people with the disease in the United States in the early 20th century.  

HIST 228 will be offered again in Winter 2024. 


Department of History, Queen's University

49 Bader Lane, Watson Hall 212
Kingston ON K7L 3N6




Queen's University is situated on traditional Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe territory.