Colloquy Downeast Blue Hill Maine

Colloquy Downeast

Spirited Conversations in Great Company

FacilitatorRichard Jacoby and Andrew Miller
Date & Time Tuesdays - September 5, 12, 19, 26
10:00 am - 12:00 pm
LocationHoward Room, Blue Hill Public Library

How Epidemics Determined The Course of History

The arc of history has usually been ascribed to the will of great personalities playing out on the canvas of economics, politics and (“by other means”) war. However, there are other players on the field. Epidemics of deadly disease arise unexpectedly from a changing historical environment and the resulting pestilence unpredictably and sometimes dramatically alters history.

This colloquy will explore the emergence and impact of infectious disease in the course of history. We will read about and discuss five well studied historical epidemics: (1) Rats! – Black Death of Europe, how it appeared and changed the Middle Ages; (2) Cows! – Small Pox and the collapse of the native population and culture in the European exploration and settlement of the Americas; (3) Mosquitoes! – Malaria and the slave trade, slave uprisings and westward expansion; (4) Water! – Cholera in London and the birth of the science of public health; (5) Birds and Pigs! – “Spanish” Influenza of 1918, the forgotten pandemic of history.   The study of this interesting history may naturally stimulate speculation on the specter of future pestilence of pandemic scale in the course of human events.

Richard Jacoby, M.D. is from Colorado and spends summer and fall in Blue Hill. Although he trained as a physician he does not admit to any professional knowledge of infectious disease.

Andrew Miller is an aquatic biologist who spent the majority of his career at the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center in Vicksburg, Mississippi, studying endangered and invasive species and environmental impacts of water resource projects. After retiring, he taught Biology at Thomas University, Thomasville, GA. He is a Deer Isle summer resident.

  ▼ Syllabus/Reading


The colloquy will read and discuss short excerpts from books by Thucydides (History of the Peloponnesian War) and Lucretius (The Nature of Things) on the Athenian plague of 460BC, Barbara Tuchman (A Distant Mirror), William McNeill (Plagues and Peoples), John Kelly (The Great Mortality), Jared Diamond (Guns Germs and Steel), Charles Mann (1493), Alfred W. Crosby (The Columbian Exchange), Christopher Wills (The Co-evolution of People and Plagues), Paul Ewald (The Evolution of Infectious Disease), John Barry (The Great Influenza). Excerpts of sources will be provided for the participants to read for each session so that purchase of books will not be necessary.The facilitator will supply a more specific syllabus and reading materials to registered participants closer to the colloquy start date.

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  ▼ Registration


Bookings are now closed (or the colloquy has been cancelled)

We aren't currently accepting bookings for Plagues, Perils and Pestilence of the Past.

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