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Unformatted text preview: EUH 2001 RA 2: The Black Death Due Wednesday, March 18 Specs: 4‐6 pages of text, Title Page with a creative title, parenthetical citations with author of source and page number) It is ironic that an epidemic that killed so many human beings, about 25 million of them, has taken on an inhuman historical quality—a surreal miasma of death and torment. Indeed, today we call the bubonic plague “the black death,” but that name refers not to the disease itself, but to the 1348‐1350 epidemic of it. The “Death” was that two year horror of disease, death, persecution, flagellation, mass burials, refugees, and terror that swept much of the known world. Perhaps because it was so sweeping and so gruesome, it can be difficult to imagine living through the experience. “People” lived and died during the Death, but who are “people”? What was it like to watch a loved one die? To fear death yourself? To search for explanations? To attempt to wash away the epidemic with your own blood? Was it natural law? It seemed so, because the plague appeared to spare no one because of age, wealth, or ethnicity. Scale can only tell us so much; to understand the Death, we have to immerse ourselves in it. People don’t live history—millions of individual human beings do. For this RA, you need to live the Death, both as a modern historian for whom antibiotics are a ready and known cure and as a 14th century European for whom there is no cure. Here’s how: as a modern student, you are researching the human element of the Black Death and are using a diary written during the Death as your main source. In your RA, alternate between writing as the modern researcher making discoveries and the 14th cy person writing it all down for the first time as it happens around and to you (that’s how your European knows about all those sources). Your goal is to tell the story of the Death through the eyes of one person—you—living then and one person—you—reliving it now. A page might look like this: I have found an important source! I have been trying to understand what the Death actually meant to the people living it before it had a name. I found a diary kept during 134‐ by a man named ‐‐‐‐ living in ‐‐
‐‐. According to him . . . . “blah, blah, blah” (Boccaccio, 75). Distinguish between the researcher and the past actor by putting the past in bold. As a modern researcher, you can take any angle you want—maybe you’re working on a journal of your findings, maybe you’re sharing with a colleague or class, etc. Think of it like one of those movies where the same person lived in a past life and the plot flashes back and forth between the present and the past. Be creative, and think outside the box. ...
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