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Grant number like: FT-269893-20

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John Eicher
Pennsylvania State University, Altoona Campus (Altoona, PA 16601-3777)

Summer Stipends
Research Programs

[Grant products]

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
10/1/2020 – 11/30/2020

Influenza, War, and Religion in Rural Europe, 1918-1920

Researching a history of the 1918 influenza epidemic in rural Europe, investigating the social, political, and religious factors shaping responses to the medical crisis.

This book project compares the 1918 influenza pandemic’s cultural effects on rural communities in the British isles (Great Britain and Ireland) and Central Europe (Germany and Switzerland) in order to understand popular perceptions of science and religion at the end of Europe’s first total war and the beginning of western medicine’s “golden age.” My transnational and comparative framework helps us understand the pandemic through multiple lenses including (1) wartime solidarities, (2) rurality, (3) religion, and, (4) empire. I hypothesize that: 1) Interpretations of the flu varied between urban/rural contexts and across national/confessional lines. 2) Rural communities placed greater trust in local leaders than in overburdened national authorities. 3) In contrast to modern Europeans’ dependency on a welfare state, rural Europeans in 1918 had fewer expectations that governments were responsible for citizens’ health, which enhanced social stability during the crisis.