On March 12, 2020, Davidson College students, faculty, and staff learned that we were depopulating campus and pivoting to online instruction. Doing our part to minimize the spread of coronavirus meant sacrificing being together. Walking home from my office that afternoon, I ran into a student who commented that she mourned the loss of the intellectual culture we nurture here. Without minimizing the grief and trauma of this time, I wondered if we also could use it as an opportunity to learn and maintain connection with one another. As a historian, I always am asking how the past and present inform one another, and as I interpreted information about COVID-19 through my knowledge of disease in American history, I realized how useful such historical reference points can be in enabling critical, informed, and empowered thinking in times of crisis and information saturation. With the support of colleagues and staff, we quickly organized the Social Distancing Lecture Series. Each Wednesday from April 28 through May 6, 2020, a scholar shared their research about human experiences of sickness and recovery in the past in order to help us put our experiences of this pandemic in context. Many of those talks are archived below.
Thanks to those who made this series possible: my colleagues in the Department of History and especially chair Mike Guasco for funding it, Devyn Spence Benson, Ebony Stubbs, Amy Elkins, Daniel Lynds, Adelle Patten, Winnie Newton, and everyone at College Communications. Last, I would like to thank those who participated as viewers. Even though we are scattered in homes around the world, we remain a learning community.
Rose Stremlau, Ph.D.
Wayne Soon’s “Global Health Lessons From East Asia: Revisiting the 2003 SARS Pandemic”
Jennifer Lambe’s “Disease, Politics, and Power: The View from Cuba”
Mikaëla Adams on “Influenza in Indian Country”
Christina Snyder’s “The Rise and Fall and Rise of Civilizations”
Sunny Yudkoff’s “Yiddish Literature In the Time of Pandemic”