In times of crisis, historians look back in search of answers for the present. What seems to many as the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic appears familiar in historical perspective: humanity confronting the prospect of horrific losses, and a plague testing the social bonds. Epidemics call upon society to show solidarity, to care for others, and to protect the vulnerable. Not all such calls were answered positively in the past: Epidemics sometimes led to violent persecution of imagined villains, resulting in social oppression and expulsions. But, as Duke historians know, they were also the grounds for intellectual invention and regeneration.
The Duke faculty is committed to providing a model of solidarity in this time of crisis by sustaining the tradition of learning, continuing innovative teaching, and caring for our students and scholarly community.
Josiah Charles Trent Professor of the History of Medicine
It is human to fear the “dangerous other,” the person who brings disease or violence or death. In prior epidemics the dangerous other was often easy to recognize... keep reading
Professor of History
Historically, plagues have not only been disruptive and destructive, but also opportunities that inspired reflection and discovery. A few years after the ... keep reading
Associate Professor of History
This is not the first time the world has had to cope with global pandemic nor may it be the last. Over the last two millennia major outbreaks of plague have rocked... keep reading
Assistant Professor of History
The history of medicine teaches us that we are all the descendants of hardy survivors. Our ancestors faced challenges like this.. keep reading