The 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic from a translocal and comparative perspective with John Eicher
Episode 114 - August 25, 2023
John Eicher (Penn State Altoona) joins the Infectious Historians to discuss his project on the 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic that examines the pandemic from a translocal and comparative perspective. John begins by describing the broad contours of the pandemic and reflects upon the different approaches scholars have adopted in telling the story of the pandemic so far. John’s own project builds upon a digitized collection of over a thousand letters describing memories and stories from the influenza pandemic, offering him a unique understanding of what the pandemic did in a variety of locales. Throughout the interview John shares some of the stories that appear in the letters, and jumps between trying to think about the pandemic as a whole and focusing on the individual experience that the sources provide. Among the topics that are discussed in the interview are the features that appear (e.g. war) or do not appear (e.g. blame) in the letters, and attempts to compare different understandings of the pandemic – for example in the United States and in Europe. Near the end the conversation moves to a discussion of Rosenberg’s understanding of an epidemic as well as a comparison to Covid.
Associate Professor of History, Penn State Altoona.