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2012 Malis Lecture: Newspapers and the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918
Posted: Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Humanities Department is proud to present the 2012 Bernard Malis Memorial Lecture: “Advertising the Flu: Newspapers & the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918” by Tom Ewing, PhD, Professor of History and Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies at Virginia Tech. The talk will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, at 4:30 p.m. in the McNeil Science and Technology Center’s AstraZeneca Auditorium.

The influenza pandemic that swept across the United States in the fall of 1918 killed an estimated 650,000 Americans. With this disease infecting as many as one in four Americans, public health officials, doctors, and nurses dealt with an unprecedented crisis of community health and individual sickness.

Professor Ewing’s lecture explores how newspaper advertisements promoted tonics, potions, and pills that promised immediate relief and guaranteed prevention. This “language of disease” served an important public health function in disseminating expert knowledge but also contributed to the patterns of denial, misinformation, and misdirection that characterized the public response to this deadly epidemic.

Professor Ewing will speak for 30 minutes and will take questions afterwards. Students and faculty interested in the history of public health, pharmaceutical advertising, and medical rhetoric will not want to miss this lecture.

The Bernard J. Malis Memorial Lectureship in Humanities was endowed by Malis, who graduated from PCPS in 1944 with a BS in pharmacy and in 1947 with an MS in pharmacy. He was a consultant in pharmacology and public health, and was chair of the Philadelphia chapter of the Explorers Club. In 1989, Malis was elected a fellow of Royal Society of Arts.

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