Public Writing

Pandemics have long created labor crises. Here’s why.” Made by History, Washington Post, June 2021

In England, the post-plague labor crisis led to the introduction of the first national labor laws, a response to worker demands for higher wages and better conditions after enduring dangerous work during the pandemic. In response, the elite found new ways to repress workers and maintain a class hierarchy, reminding us of the stakes of the conversation about labor today.

Illness & Crisis, from Medieval Plague Tracts to Covid-19,” New York Review of Books Daily, March 2020

Medieval plague tracts aimed to serve what Jacme d’Agramont called “the common and public good.” But the advice they offered emphasized a personal regimen that could scarcely slow the spread of the plague or diminish its effects. Their prescriptions reveal the limits of individual action in combating such a shared predicament as a pandemic.