Winter Lecture Series: Global Pandemics

Global Pandemics: How They have Influenced History

with Professor Dan Breen

A 5-PART SERIES: Sundays: January 21st, 28th, February 4th, 11th, 25th from 2-4 pm in the 1st floor meeting room. This a hybrid (live and virtual) program – see links below.

Part 1: JANUARY 21st at 2:00 pm:

The Black Death 

Watch here:

Everyone knows about the Black Death of the 14th Century; here we are nearly 700 years later, and cultural references to the catastrophe still abound.  Arguments still rage, however, about just what kind of disease this was and what brought it about.  In this session, we’ll investigate the probable origins and course of this most destructive of medieval pandemics, along with some thoughts about how that same destruction helped lead to a revolution in politics and economics.

Part ll: JANUARY 28th at 2:00 pm


Watch here:

Malaria is more ‘endemic’ than ‘pandemic’ in its character, but for that very reason it may be the most significant of all maladies in terms of its effects on human history.  The presence of slavery in the New World, the American victory in the Revolution and the European conquest of Africa have all been decisively influenced by malaria and its treatment.  These are some of the stories we will tell in this session, which concerns a disease that still kills hundreds of thousands of people every year.

Part lll: February 4th at 2:00 pm

Yellow Fever

Watch here:

Few maladies were as feared in the early nineteenth century as Yellow Fever–and few effected history as profoundly.  In this session, we will tell the story of how Yellow Fever ended Napoleon’s dreams of an empire in the New World, and paved the way for the exponential growth of the American republic.

Part IV: February 11th at 2 pm


Watch here:

From its probable origins in South Asia, cholera emerged as a terrible scourge of European and American city-dwellers during the nineteenth century.  People had as little an idea of what caused it as they did of malaria and yellow fever–until the research of the Englishman John Snow helped usher in the modern age of epidemiology.

Part V: February 25th at 2 pm


Watch here:

To a world already suffering the ravages of the First World War, the great flu epidemic of 1918-19 came as a particularly tragic blow.  Not since the 14th century had an epidemic taken such a grievous toll in human life, and it brought with it a mystery.  Why were did young, healthy victims seem more likely to die than others?

This a hybrid (live and virtual) program. Click here for the Zoom webinar each week:

Dr. Daniel Breen is a professor of Legal Studies at Brandeis University.  Dr. Breen has a BA from the University of Wisconsin,  a JD from the University of Georgia and a PhD in History from Boston College. He has also taught at Framingham State University and Newbury College. 
Winter Lecture Series Programs:  (All with Professor Daniel Breen)


2006 World War I
2007 The Great Depression
2008 World War 2 Part 1
2009 World War 2 Part 2
2010 The Civil War Part 1
2011 The Civil War Part 2
2012 Prohibition
2013 Landmark Supreme Court Decisions
2014 Modern Chinese History
2015 Great Moments in Science: A Tale of Six Countries
2016 The Roosevelts:  An Intimate History
2017 Little Known Presidential Elections in American History
2018 Getting to the Moon: American Space Exploration 1945-1969
2019 The Hundred Years War: A Century of Native American Resistance 1790-1890
2020 History of the U.S. in Six Songs
2021 Five Real Life Murder Cases
2022 Great Moments in Polar Exploration – Arctic
2023 Great Moments in Polar Exploration – Antarctica

 Thanks to the Friends of the Bedford Free Public Library for sponsoring this program. Free and open to the public.


Author: rcallaghan