Covid-19 in Historical Perspective: An ‘in Conversation’ Series

The Raphael Samuel History Centre, in partnership with Manchester Centre for Public History and Heritage at Manchester Metropolitan University, invite you to an ‘in conversation’ series on Covid-19 in Historical Perspective. Building on our first workshop (Doing Public History in Lockdown and Beyond) and bringing together historical experts on health, disease, policy, and more, this series or workshops will explore the many historical perspectives through which we can view, and better understand, the current coronavirus pandemic and the political and cultural responses to it. In each session, a panel of historians will discuss and reflect upon key questions, comparisons, contrasts, and ‘lessons’ that we might draw upon to help us make sense of the present through an examination of the past.

Please note that all events will be recorded and by joining the event you give your permission to be recorded.

These virtual events are free and open to all, but registration is essential. Please specify which event(s) you’d like to join. Contact the RSHC administrator Katy Pettit to register:

The History of Pandemic Responses

Thursday 12th November, 4.00pm – 5.30pm GMT

  • What have pandemic responses looked like, and what public health and political tensions have there been, in different times and place?


Matthew McCormack (University of Northampton): The Pandemic Response in the context of British political history

Matt Vester (West Virginia University): Pandemic politics during the renaissance

Rosa Salzberg (University of Warwick): Lockdown and early modern Venice

Henry Irving (Leeds Beckett University): Keep Calm and Carry On: Comms in the Crisis

Can we learn any lessons from history?

Thursday 26th November, 5.00 – 6.30pm

  • Can history tell us anything about how to better manage our current crisis?


Virginia Berridge (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine): Swine flu, HIV/AIDS, and public health in local government

Alex Mold (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine): Behaviour, change, and histories of public health

David Arnold (University of Warwick): The Pandemic in India: Influenza and Covid-19 compared

Guillaume Lachenal and Gaëtan Thomas (Sciences Po, Paris): When history has no lessons

Change and Continuity

Wednesday 2nd December, 4:00 – 5.30pm

  • How is this pandemic, and our political, social and cultural responses to it, similar from or different to past moments of intense crisis and change? Can we use history to imagine what life after coronavirus might look like?


Frank Trentmann (Birkbeck, University of London): Consuming at a Distance

Kat Hill (Birkbeck, University of London): Awaiting Apocalypse in historical perspective

Andrew Jackson (Bishop Grosseteste University): The legacies of 1919 and 2020 in the community

Agnes Arnold-Forster (University of Bristol): The long history of health inequalities

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