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Mid: The Dancing Mania – John Waller

October 1, 2009
7:30 pm - 9:00 pm

Michigan State University
220 Trowbridge Rd
East Lansing, MI 48824 United States

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Organized by:
Christian Orlic
Email: msu@centerforinquiry.net


It began sometime in the middle of July 1518, in the medieval city of Strasbourg. A woman stepped into the street and started to dance. Within days more than 40 had been overcome with the same compulsion and by the end of August as many as 400 people had at some point joined in this crazed dance. We do not know how many people succumbed to exhaustion but the chronicles agree that many died. What could have impelled people to dance themselves to death? And what light does it shed on the power of supernaturalist belief to shape human behavior?

Free parking is available in MSU Parking Ramp 6 after 6 pm.

About John Waller, PhD


Dr. Waller received his B.A. in Modern History and his M.Sc. in Human Biology from the University of Oxford, his M.Sc. in History of Science and Medicine from Imperial College, London, and his Ph.D. in the History and Philosophy of Science from University College, London (in 2001). Following his graduate work, he served as a Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard and as a Research Fellow and Part-time Lecturer at University College, London, and then became a Lecturer in History of Medicine and Biology at the University of Melbourne (Australia). Dr. Waller’s research has largely focused on nineteenth-century medical science and society. He has published five books (with Oxford University Press and Cambridge: Icon Books), is working on a sixth, and has also published seven peer-reviewed articles, and a number of conference articles, reviews, and book chapters. Dr. Waller teaches courses in the Lyman Briggs College of Science and the Department of History on the history of medicine, psychiatry, and evolutionary biology.