Pox, Populism, and Politics: Three Centuries of American Vaccination Controversies | Newberry

Pox, Populism, and Politics: Three Centuries of American Vaccination Controversies

Friday, January 28, 2022

9:30am - 12:30 pm

The Newberry Library

Dr. Robert Johnston, University of Illinois Chicago
Newberry Teachers' Consortium

Mass vaccine hesitancy, along with outright opposition to immunization, is by no means solely an artifact of the COVID-19 era. Rather, controversies over vaccination in American history go back literally three centuries, to an intense conflict in Puritan Boston that inspired an assassination attempt on Cotton Mather. This seminar will explore this long history, focusing on three periods: the early eighteenth century, the Progressive Era, and the decades after World War II. We will especially reflect on the complex legacy of populism in all of these conflicts. Using this conceptual lens inspires us to see vaccination struggles as important episodes in the complex history of American democracy, involving issues such as civil liberties, bodily autonomy, governmental coercion, eugenics, natural medicine, conspiracy theories, and popular understandings of science. Ultimately, we can hope that a more complex history might inspire a more complex evaluation of the ways in which vaccination politics play out in the present day.

Cost and Registration Information 

Registration for all NTC seminars opens Friday, September 10, 2021 at 8 a.m. (Central Time). Registration instructions and pricing information can be found here. Once open, registration for this seminar will be available through this link. For more information about NTC purchases, please contact Cate Harriman, Teacher & Student Programs Coordinator, at harrimanc@newberry.org.

A link to the assigned pre-readings for the seminars, as well as instructions for accessing virtual seminars, will be distributed to participants via email.

If you believe you are registered for this seminar but have not received an email confirmation or reminder, please contact Teacher Programs staff at teacherprograms@newberry.org.