Virtual Event: Kyle Harper at the York Festival of IdeasPlagues Upon the Earth

Explore the history of humans and their germs with Kyle Harper, author of Plagues Upon the Earth.

Weaving together a grand narrative of global history with insights from cutting-edge genetics, Kyle explains why humanity’s uniquely dangerous disease pool is rooted deep in our evolutionary past, and why its growth is accelerated by technological progress. 

He shows that the story of disease is entangled with the history of slavery, colonialism and capitalism, and reveals the enduring effects of historical plagues in patterns of wealth, health, power and inequality. 

He also tells the story of humanity’s escape from infectious disease - a triumph that makes life as we know it possible, yet destabilizes the environment and fosters new diseases.

Tracing the role of disease in the transition to farming, the spread of cities, the advance of transportation and the stupendous increase in human population, Kyle Harper offers a new interpretation of humanity’s path to control infectious disease - one where rising evolutionary threats constantly push back against human progress, and where the devastating effects of modernization contribute to the great divergence between societies. 

Kyle reminds us that human health is globally interdependent - and inseparable from the well-being of the planet itself. Putting the COVID-19 pandemic in perspective, he tells the story of how we got here as a species, a story that may help us decide where we want to go.

This event will take place live on Zoom Webinar. You’ll receive a link to join a couple of days before the event takes place and a reminder an hour before. During the event, you can ask questions via a Q&A function, but audience cameras and microphones will remain muted throughout.

Kyle Harper is professor of classics and letters at the University of Oklahoma. His books include The Fate of Rome: Climate, Disease, and the End of an Empire (Princeton) and From Shame to Sin: The Christian Transformation of Sexual Morality in Late Antiquity. He lives in Moore, Oklahoma.


Twitter @Oklahomaharper