SO/HS 350 - The Black Death & Its Aftermath
This course examines the impact of the Black Death (1348-1350) on Italy, with particular attention to the demographic, social, economic, intellectual, legal, and gender consequences of this terrible pandemic. Beginning with an introduction to the medical knowledge and practice of the period, the course examines European and Italian (Sienese in particular) society in the years immediately before and after the plague to discover how it changed the lives of the survivors. The class analyzes economic shifts, legal changes in society and how jurists interpreted them, the role of women and their newly-gained wealth, changes in literature and art, improvements (or lack thereof) in agriculture and wages, and political rebellions. This course has two main, interrelated objectives: to give students familiarity with the main political, cultural, religious, and socio-economic features of life in medieval Italy, and to help students acquire a more critical and analytical approach to history in general, through the investigation of primary sources and the different ways in which historians have employed sources to construct historical interpretation.