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Contagions, Virality and Disease

Contagions, Virality and Disease
Illustration Credit: Czarlyn Trinidad (NT '21)

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The theme of this program addresses the urgency of the present moment. Understandings of the contagious, the viral, and disease have provoked debate throughout history, across literature, media, and cultural expression, and woven through religion and theories of the self. This cluster of courses, which may be taken individually or in combination with each other, focuses on a central issue of our time across various historical, cultural and discursive contexts.

The interdisciplinary courses that comprise this program span liberal arts disciplines. These courses will help students complete core requirements as Tulane undergraduates, including service learning, race and inclusion, and writing. They will build students’ fluency in a range of disciplines and engage the interdisciplinary field of science and technology studies in order to understand and address current crises in new and surprising ways.

Courses Include:

  • DMPR 3910: Contagious Surveillance

    Dates: May 11 - May 22 (2 weeks), MTWRF, 10:00am - 3:00pm
    Tuition: $2625 (3 credits)
    Counts towards Social and Behavior Sciences
    Instructor: Jacquelyne Howard

    This seminar examines the historical and contemporary relationships between contagions and practices of modern surveillance. This course will introduce students to the interdisciplinary theories of surveillance studies such as discipline, control, capitalism, media, and data privacy during times of crisis, as it relates to race, gender, and inclusion. Seminar discussions will include cases where patriarchal power and racialized systems were used to promote perceptions of security, fear, exposure, and control. As praxis, students will use rapid response research strategies to design and produce a digital media project that uses technology tools such as maps, visualizations, textual analysis, and/or audio-visual production. These products will analyze how surveillance technology is used during health crises to control bodies as it relates to concepts of race, gender, and power. Digital media skills will be taught in this course. All technical skill-levels are welcome. Counts toward the Race and Inclusion NTC core requirement.

  • HISU 2100: History of Medicine in the US

    Dates: May 26 - June 26 (5 weeks), MTWRF, 2:00pm - 3:40pm
    Tuition: $3420 (3 credits)
    Instructor: Karissa Haugeberg

    Students in this course will study the social dimensions of medicine, and health in U.S history, with a focus on pandemics. In order to contextualize historically the current Covid-19 pandemic, we will study other global pandemics. We will examine how ordinary people were affected by pandemics, advances in medical technologies, and changing ideas about healthcare. Students will consider how ideas about medicine have been shaped by economic, military, political, and social transformations in U.S and world history. In addition to reading scholarly essays and books, we read fiction and watch films to better understand our past and our present. Counts toward the Race and Inclusion, Tier-1 writing, and Textual and Historical NTC core requirements.

  • ANTH 3091/-02: Medical Anthropology of Infectious Disease

    Dates: May 26 - June 26 (5 weeks), MTWRF, 3:00pm - 4:40pm
    Tuition: $3420 (3 credits); $4560 (4 credits w/writing option)
    Instructor: Andrew McDowell

    This course engages a broad sample of medical anthropological texts that focus on infectious diseases and global health. It considers the kinds of social life that contagion lays bare, works through, and builds. Taking COVID-19, HIV, and tuberculosis--among others--as examples of the intertwined lives of humans and microbes, students work at the intersection of meaning (stigma, illness narrative, global health discourses) and materiality (microbes, human bodies, environments). First, we will take a cross-cultural perspective to understand how people and anthropologists around the world understand how illnesses move through groups. We will examine the simultaneous danger and necessity of living with other people and organisms. Second, the course engages anthropological literature on contagion and social inequality, care, and resistance to trace interdependent relationships between circulating microbes and social life. Third, students will be exposed to anthropological accounts of scientific cultures which identify and stabilize bacteria and viruses. Understanding these cultures will help students assess the effects of scientific representations and techniques on interventions, human experience with disease, drug discovery, and microbes themselves. Counts toward the Global Perspectives, Social and Behavioral Sciences, and has a Tier-2 Writing Intensive option towards NTC requirements.

  • COMM 3811/-02: Performance and Pathology

    Date: May 26 - June 26 (5 weeks), MTWRF, 11:00am - 12:40pm
    Tuition: $3420 (3 credits); $4560 (4 credits w/writing option)
    Instructor: Felicia McCarren

    This course draws on research in the fields of Performance Studies and the History of medicine to study the historic links between performance, illness, and cure.

    Performances are entertainments that divert the public, especially during hard times. But performance forms have also, across history, staged illness and contagion. This course will explore the staging of pathologies, from Greek dramas performed in healing festivals to the theatricality of the modern research and teaching hospital (the performances of patients and doctors), to the cross-class, trans-national circulation of contagious and sexually transmitted disease featured in plays, operas, and ballets. We will look at theater, film and performance forms that stage illness, while reading historical, literary and theoretical texts about the normal and the pathological, about the theatricality of medicine and doctors, and about fears concerning bodies (especially female) as pathological sites and carriers of contagion. Counts toward the Global Perspectives, Textual and Historical Perspectives, and has a Tier-2 Writing Intensive option towards NTC requirements.

  • EVST 3950/COMM 3810: Race, Nature and Biological Disaster

    Dates: June 29 - July 30 (5 weeks), MTWRF, 11:00am - 12:40pm
    Tuition: $3420 (3 credits)
    Instructor: Clare Daniel

    This interdisciplinary course examines the intersections of race, politics, and environmental and biological disaster. We will look at how ideas about race in the U.S have shaped and been shaped by social policy, global politics and economics and U.S foreign policy, and investigate how certain populations within and outside the U.S. become disproportionately vulnerable to wide-scale disaster. Counts toward the Race and Inclusion NTC core requirement.

  • COMM 4810: Cinematic Dis/Ease

    Dates: June 29 - July 31 (5 weeks), MTWRF, 1:00pm - 2:40pm
    Tuition: $3420 (3 credits); $4560 (4 credits w/writing option)
    Instructor: Antonio Gomez

    Cinematic Dis/ease is a comparative exploration of cinematic representations of contagion and pandemic in South Korean and American cinemas, to discern ways in which different cultural traditions and film markets imagine the origins, spread, and resolution of public health crisis through the “disaster movie” genre. The course will focus on Children of Men (Alfonso Cuarón, 2006), The Host (Bong Joon-ho, 2006), Contagion (Steven Soderbergh, 2011), and The Flu (Kim Sung-su, 2013), but will refer to other films as well. It will address questions such as, How do mainstream American and South Korean film speak about the risks of a pandemic? How do they choose to represent them? What kind of responses do they expect from the audience? Does “exoticism” play any role in the telling of these stories? What about environmental crisis? What do these “imagined futures” tell us about the present, and how different national states have managed the Covid-19 crisis? Counts toward Global Perspectives and has a Tier-2 Writing Intensive option towards NTC requirements.

  • MUSC 4952: Music in Times of Trauma

    Dates: June 29 - July 31 (5 weeks), MTWRF, 3:00pm - 4:40pm
    Tuition: $3420 (3 credits)
    Instructor: Brendan Connelly

    What value does music hold in moments of social, political and personal suffering and celebration? Can music communicate trauma, or even alleviate the experience of trauma? In times of trauma - such as our current time - why does music continue to be created, shared and enjoyed? These are the core questions that will be addressed in the course. With an inter-disciplinary approach - from the history and practice of music therapy to analysis of music composed in times of trauma to psychoanalytic readings on art and healing - this course will address the relationship between our own current pandemic and music. Counts toward the Aesthetics and Creative Arts NTC requirements.

  • ARHS 2910/ARST 3010: Copies, Creativity and Contagion

    Date: Aug 03 - Aug 14 (2 weeks), MTWRF, 10:00am - 3:00pm
    Tuition: $2625 (3 credits)
    Instructors: Stephanie Porras & Sean Fader

    What happens when an image or video "goes viral"? This hybrid studio/art history course considers the history of viral images, starting with the print revolution of the fifteenth century through today's memes and hashtags. Taught by an art historian and a studio artist, class days will be a mixture of art history lectures, discussions of readings in critical theory and media studies, studio time and peer review/ critique of written and visual work. Counts toward the Aesthetics and Creative Arts NTC requirements.


Registration for current Tulane students:
Registration information for non-Tulane students:

Contact Information
For additional information about School of Liberal Arts Summer Programs, please contact Kendre Paige


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