Blast Course: "Conceptualizing the Pandemic: Emergency Humanities during COVID-19"


Course TitleConceptualizing the Pandemic: Emergency Humanities during COVID-19"

Dates: Mondays/Thursdays from July 13th through August 14th (5 weeks)

Class Type: 2 recorded videos per week (with one live group meeting TBD)

Course Description: The COVID-19 pandemic has generated intense debate, critique, and comment among scholars and public intellectuals to an extent not seen in many years in a public sphere typically fragmented by specialized interests. In February 2020, during the early weeks of the pandemic, philosopher Giorgio Agamben published his thoughts on the state of emergency declared in Italy, thenceforth inviting a series of commentaries and controversies. But Agamben’s comments were based on his body of philosophical work spanning decades, and many did not take note of his views in this larger context. Soon other philosophers, geographers, anthropologists, and authors joined in on the vociferous debate—a unique instance of major public intellectuals convening to discuss a singular world event.

This course examines how philosophers and other public intellectuals have conceptualized the COVID-19 pandemic. Areas covered in the selected readings include declarations of emergency by many world governments, the possibly exaggerated but not impossible threat of human extinction in the event of a pandemic in the anthropocene, economic consequences of the pandemic, and, finally, possibilities of alternate futures previously unimagined. These readings are paired with empirical research published in medical and public health journals.

Lectures will be based on carefully selected readings, most of which are available as online blog posts and articles (mostly very short), with a few selections from books for theoretical perspective. All readings are available online and/or will be emailed to students.

Instructor: Arpan Roy, Anthropology (he/him)

Open to the public

[image credit: A Sicilian fresco from 1445. In the previous century, the Black Death killed at least a third of Europe’s population.Credit...Werner Forman/Universal Images Group/Getty Images]

 Event Date
Monday, July 13, 2020

Friday, August 14, 2020

Alexander Grass Humanities Institute

Status message

This class is now closed. Please email with your name and the title of this class if you would like to be added to the waitlist.