HL90 FS: HIV in Global Perspective

We’ve got lots of great new HL90s you’ll want to learn more about! Yan Slobodkin teaches “HIV in Global Perspective” this fall.

What inspired you to teach this class?

Like so many of us in these unprecedented times, I’ve been thinking a lot about public health. One obvious historical analogy to Covid is, of course, the AIDS crisis. Though I’m skeptical of any easy “lessons” that can be transferred between historical contexts, I think both crises push us to ask similar questions. How do we make  individual decisions during a collective emergency? How do we deal with a global problem that does not respect borders? What communities are disproportionately affected and why? What are the respective roles of medicine and public health?

What is a text you’re excited to share with students?

I’ll choose two! Tony Kushner’s play Angels in America is just an incredible piece of art that gives a sense of just how shocking, how overwhelming and terrifying the early days of AIDS were for the gay community in the United States. Abbas Kiarostami’s film ABC Africa, on the other hand, is a look into AIDS in a very different context. Through sources like these, the class will connect and compare how AIDS was experienced throughout the world. 

Are you doing any cool projects or assignments this semester?

One assignment that I think will be super fun is one in which each student will choose a piece of art related to HIV/AIDS and present it to the class. It should be really productive to see the diversity of artistic expression on the topic and give us a chance to give a personal slant to the course materials. 

How can students learn more?

You can see the syllabus on the Canvas site or email me.

Published by Hist & Lit

Committee on Degrees in History & Literature at Harvard University

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