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Pandemics in History: A Lecture Series with Professor Michael Rossi

Today we find ourselves in what seems to be a new historic moment. COVID-19 has not only taken lives, but its menace has spawned profound changes in social and cultural practices across the globe, from wearing facial coverings to social distancing. But coronavirus is not the first pathogen to threaten the human species.

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In this series, Michael Rossi, Assistant Professor of the History of Medicine at the University of Chicago, will explore four pandemics—bubonic plague, cholera, influenza, and HIV-AIDS—that have likewise challenged human beings and transformed the ways that we have lived, worked, loved, and clashed.

Investigating these historical episodes will offer participants a new vantage point to reflect upon the novelty of our present circumstances, as well as to consider the ways we are traveling well-trodden pathways that have long linked disease to the human experience.

About Michael Rossi

Offered remotely and free of charge by the University of Chicago Graham School, these four Wednesday sessions will combine live lectures by Professor Rossi with moderated discussions on short, pre-distributed readings. Pre-readings will be made available on each event’s page.


Registration is required. Curiosity and good will is expected. A certain sobering enrichment is anticipated, as is an appreciation for the hope and will to live that have guided people through time.

Lectures will be held from 6:30-8:00 PM CST, Wednesday evenings on May 20, May 27, June 3, and June 10.

Download the pre-readings on each lecture's registration page.

Register for the events below.