Skip to main content
Experiencing Epidemics Podcast

Experiencing Epidemics Podcast

By Experiencing Epidemics
What does it mean to experience a deadly epidemic? To better understand our current COVID-19 crisis, historians Jorge Díaz Ceballos, Ian Hathaway, and Gašper Jakovac explore the long history of people’s encounters with epidemics. Teaming up with other scholars, they delve into individual sources and personal narratives, providing diverse and thought-provoking insights into the emotional, intellectual, social, and political challenges faced by individuals and communities who experienced epidemics before the rise of modern germ theory.
Where to listen
Google Podcasts Logo

Google Podcasts

Overcast Logo


Pocket Casts Logo

Pocket Casts

RadioPublic Logo


Spotify Logo


Ep. 13: The World War, refugees, and the long history of epidemics
Our last episode is a special one. We first join Dr. Doina Anca Cretu to explore some facets of a terrible humanitarian and health crisis that took place in a war-torn Europe during World War I. Then, we join cohosts Jorge Díaz Ceballos and Gašper Jakovac to share some thoughts about the whole arch of historical experiences covered by this podcast and try to provide our listeners, and ourselves, with a bit of closure. Thank you for listening! Hosted by Ian Hathaway
November 09, 2021
Ep. 12: Erasmus on fear, plague and prudence
In our twelfth episode, Professor Brian Cummings shares with us a letter written by the famous Dutch humanist Desiderius Erasmus (c. 1466-1536). In 1500, an outbreak of plague in Paris forced Erasmus to flee to Orléans. Months later, he remained skeptical about returning to the city even though his correspondents urged him to return. What did Erasmus have to say about prudence and active avoidance of taking unnecessary risks during epidemics? Find out in today’s episode. Hosted by Gašper Jakovac
June 22, 2021
Ep. 11: The plague in Mumbai and Vienna, 1897-1898
In our eleventh episode, Dr. Jakob Lehne shares an intriguing story of scholarly hubris, courage, and suffering. In 1897, A group of young Austro-Hungarian researchers led by Dr. Hermann Franz Müller, set sail from Trieste for Bombay to conduct research on the recent plague outbreak. After working there for more than 3 months collecting data the team returned home. Unfortunately, this was not the end of their encounter with the plague. To find out more, tune into the episode! Hosted by Gašper Jakovac
April 16, 2021
Ep. 10: The travels and transformations of John of Burgundy's Plague Tract
In our tenth episode, Dr. Lori Jones explores the travels and transformations of a famous plague treaty from the Middle Ages: John of Burgundy's Plague Tract. Curious about late medieval plague remedies, including bloodletting? Or perhaps you are interested in the changes to John's book made by copyists throughout the centuries? Either way, we have material for you in today's episode! Hosted by Ian Hathaway
February 26, 2021
Ep. 9: Plague hospitals and disease control in Renaissance Venice
In our ninth episode, Dr. Jane Stevens Crawshaw guides our reading of Rocco Benedetti’s Accounts of some events taking place in Venice during the plague years of 1576-1577. How did Benedetti’s work as a notary shape his views on this terrible episode of Venetian history? What did he think about the local plague hospitals’ performance and the lockdown practices ordered by the government? Find out in today’s episode! Hosted by Ian F. Hathaway Thumbnail - L'isole piv famose del mondo descritte e intagliate da Girolamo Porro. Con l'aggiunta di molte isole ... / [Thomaso Porcacchi].. Credit: Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
February 01, 2021
Ep. 8: Plague and civil war in Renaissance Europe
In our eighth episode, Dr. Clément Godbarge explores the writings of Filippo Cavriana, a sixteenth-century Italian physician and spy who worked at the court of France for many years. What was the nature of the relationship between plague and civil war, according to Cavriana? What did this learned physician think of aggressive medical treatments? The answers might surprise you! Hosted by Jorge Díaz Ceballos
January 18, 2021
Ep. 7: Ottoman experiences of epidemics
Follow professors Nükhet Varlık and Giancarlo Casale, along with Ph.D. researcher Tunahan Durmaz into the fascinating world of Ottoman experiences of epidemics. What can we learn about plague and disease control from the words of an eighteenth-century Ottoman ambassador or the reflections of a seventeenth-century Istanbulite dervish? Find out in today’s episode! Hosted by Ian Hathaway,  Gašper Jakovac, and Jorge Díaz Ceballos
December 21, 2020
Ep. 6: Jesuit Reductions and epidemics in Brazil
In our sixth episode, doctoral researcher Tomás Tassinari discusses sixteenth-century letters written by Jesuit missionaries about the effect of infectious disease on Brazilian indigenous populations. How did these missionaries view the people they had traveled so far to convert? What elements of early modern imperialistic mentality still linger today? Find out in today’s episode! Hosted by Gašper Jakovac and Ian Hathaway
December 04, 2020
Ep. 5: Epidemic, fear and vampirism in early modern Europe
In our fifth episode, we interview Dr. Anton Serdeczny about the writings of Michael Ranft. Ranft was a Lutheran clergyman who contested popular beliefs according to which corpses could raise from their graves and spread disease among the living. But what did our Lutheran clergyman have to say about these ancient, superstitious beliefs? What did his erudite understanding of theology and medicine make of the Dead Who Chew? Find out in today's episode.
November 20, 2020
Ep. 4: Running a retirement home through an epidemic
In our fourth episode, Ludwig Pelzl takes us to early eighteenth-century Germany, where he explores the politics of running a retirement home through an epidemic. Hit by the plague outbreak of 1713, St. Catherine’s hospital in Regensburg lost roughly half of its retirees. How did the officials of St. Catherine’s hospital deal with this catastrophe? What lessons were learned? How did they, if at all, modify their business model? Find out in today’s episode! Hosted by Gašper Jakovac, read by Ian Hathaway
November 06, 2020
Ep. 3: Volney’s Turkish plague
In Episode 3, Gašper Jakovac is hosting Prof. Ann Thomson (EUI) to discuss the writings of Constantin-François Chasseboeuf, comte de Volney (1757–1820), a French anti-religious philosophe, who in the 1780s wrote two extremely hostile accounts of the Ottoman Empire. Travels Through Syria and Egypt (1787), and Considerations on the War with the Turks (1788) were written in a long tradition of European writing which saw the Turks steeped in ignorance, barbarism, and fanaticism. Find out more about how the plague highlights Volney’s anti-Muslim prejudice in today's episode.
October 23, 2020
Ep. 2: Plague problems
In our second episode, Vigdis Andrea Baugstø Evang guides us into the world of late medieval medical culture as they explore Jean Jacme Jacobi’s Regimen contra pestilentiam (Rules against the Plague). What did southerly winds and plague have in common? Why did Pesta, a ghastly personification of the plague, carry broom and rake as she prowled the Norwegian countryside? What were the causes of epidemic outbreaks according to a medieval physician? Find out in today’s episode! Hosted by Ian Hathaway
October 09, 2020
Ep. 1: Poetry and plague in Newcastle
In the first episode of Experiencing Epidemics podcast, Gašper Jakovac discusses an anonymous plague poem written in the wake of the 1636 Newcastle plague epidemic. This outbreak was far from the worst in the history of England, but for Newcastle, the north-eastern port city, it was devastating. What might poetry tell us about the people’s experiences of the plague and the prevailing attitudes towards infectious disease in early modern England? Get ready for thundering verse and God’s unquenchable wrath! Hosted by Ian Hathaway
September 21, 2020