THuman society has a complicated relationship with disease. The earliest written accounts of contagion in human communities demonstrate that people tended to view disease as a result of divine wrath. In addition, the earliest medical theories regarding disease tended to focus not only on possible environmental factors, but also on the sufferer’s ethnic or social origin as a factor in the disease. These tendencies to view disease as the result of angering the gods or as connected to a person’s ethnic or social identity continued well into the medieval period in European society. These attitudes became less dominant during and after the Scientific Revolution, when scientists came to learn much more about the human body and, eventually, discovered the existence of bacteria and viruses. But, to a certain extent, humanity’s desire to explain the advent of disease epidemics and pandemics on sin or scapegoats is still with us today, as recent events have demonstrated. These less-than-scientific and, in some cases, anti-scientific views of disease necessarily complicate physicians’ efforts to fight disease and perpetuate stereotypes of certain individuals and groups. In this course, we’ll examine humanity’s complex relationship with disease from the ancient period forward, with a specific focus on the Bubonic Plague, Smallpox, Cholera, the 1918 Flu, Polio, HIV/AIDS, and Ebola.