Cameron Givens Pens New Article for "Modern American History"
The German Plague: Contagion and Conspiracy in First World War America
by Cameron Givens
Abstract: During the First World War, the American home front was awash with conspiracy theories alleging that internal German enemies were intentionally spreading disease among both human and animal populations, most egregiously in the case of the influenza epidemic. While false, these stories nonetheless revealed Americans’ shifting relationships to the environment, warfare, and the federal state. They channeled immediate fears over what type of war, and what type of enemy, the nation faced, as well as deeper, Progressive-era anxieties related to the dramatic expansions of government and scientific expertise in American life. As an unexplored vernacular archive, they underline how the war permitted individuals to discuss, denounce, and contest state and scientific authority at this moment in the early twentieth century.