The Black Death
Time: 19:30 - 21:30
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
Course Code: HEH84
Duration: 10 sessions (over 10 weeks)
What is the course about?
The study of the social and economic impact of the disease known as the Black Death that spread throughout the world in the 1340s and continued to flare up intermittently thereafter throughout Europe and beyond.
This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.
What will we cover?
We will begin by identifying the first recorded instance of the Plague and look at medieval descriptions of the symptoms of those affected. We will look at both Christian and Muslim accounts as to the causes of the Black Death. The failure to identify a cure led to mass hysteria resulting in the scapegoating of minority groups, particularly the Jews, and the formation of religious sects such as the Flagellants. Finally, we will explore the social and economic impact – the shortage of labour as well as the impact on religious devotion and art.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
• Chart the progress of the Black Death across fourteenth-century Europe
• Identify medieval and contemporary medical theories as to the cause(s) of the Black Death
• Evaluate various measures taken by European municipal authorities to combat the Plague.
• Describe the impact of the Black Death on the treatment of minority groups
• Assess the impact of the Black Death on art and, in particular, describe the allegory known as La Danse Macabre (Dance of Death).
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
No prior knowledge is necessary, but a good understanding of English is essential.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
Each week there will be a PowerPoint presentation and a seminar-style discussion of original sources (in translation) pertinent to the topic. You are invited to bring along/describe items you have read in newspapers/heard on radio/seen on TV you think may be of interest to the group. You will be encouraged to do homework reading to foster debate. Most of the pre-session reading will be accompanied by questionnaires which we will go through in class. Participation in this activity is entirely voluntary.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
You need only bring note-taking materials. All required reading materials will be provided. If you wish to purchase a book before class, you might look at John Kelly The Great Mortality: An intimate history of the Black Death. Should you decide to try the London cycle of courses then you might like Barney Sloane The Black Death in Medieval London.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
HEH85 Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe.
Vanessa King is a lecturer in Medieval and early Modern History at Regents University, and Birkbeck College University of London. At City Lit, Vanessa offers courses and day schools on London, as well as European history from the Fall of Rome to 1800. She has published widely on the Anglo-Norman period (1066-1154), and is currently writing a book on Early English Queenship 600-1066 for Routledge. You can follow her progress via her website: https://queenshipinpreconquestengland.wordpress.com/ Vanessa’s expertise in medieval matters means she is frequently called upon to give public lectures and speak on BBC Radio. Vanessa's philosophy of teaching is to make history come alive through informative presentations with a good sense of humour. In her spare time, she enjoys nothing better than talking history over a glass of red wine!
Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.