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Department of History


Parrish Lecture 2021

Neolithic to New World: Global Histories of Plague

The Parrish Colloquium featuring historian Monica H. Green

Presented by the Department of History at Kansas State University

Free and open to the public

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

7:00-8:30 pm (CDT)

Accessible online at https://ksu.zoom.us/s/98591491458

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Questions: contact Prof. David Defries at ddefries@ksu.edu

Event Description:

Something extraordinary has happened in infectious disease history recently. Even before COVID-19 arrived on the world scene in December 2019, a sometimes awkward alliance had started between scientists and humanists to reframe the histories of the world’s major infectious diseases, ones that had killed millions, disrupted economies, and shifted the power dynamics of major empires. In just a decade’s time, we have new histories of smallpox, leprosy, tuberculosis and other diseases that have afflicted world populations for centuries. But the earliest and most dramatic developments have come in the field of plague history, cause of the Black Death and a disease now found on every continent save Australia and Antarctica.

This talk will summarize the developments in genetics that have laid the foundation for a new evolutionary history of Yersinia pestis, the bacterium that causes plague. It will then recount the work of historians who have seized upon the findings of the scientists and advanced our understanding of plague’s history, showing that it likely proved more widespread and more lethal than we ever imagined before. As the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us, no one field or methodology can provide us with all the answers we need to address the biological, economic, and social havoc that pandemics cause. New approaches to old histories in fact show us how to transcend disciplines to answer questions of global import and pressing urgency.


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Previous Events

Publishing Celebration 2020

Join us on Friday, February 21, 2020 at Union Station By JP's from 4-7 PM to celebrate the recent publications of our faculty members! Free pizza and appetizers will be available, as well as a cash bar. We are honoring the publications of David Defries, Brent Maner, and Eric Brandom, and we will be raffling off a copy of each book during the evening. We hope to see everyone at JP's!