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The Doctors and the Black Death: Reconsidering Expertise in an Age of Pandemic
A talk with Dr. Brett Whalen, Associate Professor of History, UNC Chapel Hill

In the popular imagination, backwards and ignorant “medieval people” possessed no means of understanding or trying to combat the Black Death, the fourteenth-century outbreak of bubonic plague that ravaged Europe among other parts of the world. In fact, while medieval doctors lacked modern medical technologies and knowledge of disease pathology, they showed remarkable creativity in their attempts to explain, diagnose, and blunt the impact of the Black Death. Professor Whalen will discuss the value of such expertise in an age of pandemic—in the Middle Ages, but also in the contemporary moment.

Brett Whalen received his PhD from Stanford University in 2005 and teaches medieval religious, intellectual, and cultural history in History at UNC-CH. He is the author of several books, including The Two Powers: The Papacy, the Empire, and the Struggle for Sovereignty in the Thirteenth Century (2019).

This talk is co-presented by the UNC School of Medicine Infectious Disease Interest Group.
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