Listen to part of a conversation between a student and a professor.
Student Professor Houston, I’m so glad I caught you in your office. I’ve been trying to find you all week long. Do you have a minute to speak?
Professor: Oh, sure, Lucy. Please come in. You’ve been looking for me?
Student Yes, ma’am, I have. I’ve been to your office three times this week, but you weren’t here anytime. Professor I’m dreadfully sorry about that. I’m normally pretty good about keeping office hours, but I’ve had a few personal issues to take care of. Anyway, what can I do for you today?
Student I was hoping to add another class to my schedule, and, since you’re my advisor, I need to get your permission. The professor for the class has already signed my add slip, so all you need to do is sign it, and then I can take this over to the Registrar’s Office for them to process.
Professor: Okay, that sounds rather straightforward. So, what is this extra class that you’re taking?
Student: It’s a cultural anthropology .class. I figured that I ought to take it now so that I can get my science requirement out of the way completely.
Professor: Yeah, that makes perfect sense. I remember dreading having to take science classes when I was a student.
Student Well, it’s actually pretty interesting, but I still don’t have much aptitude with regards to science. So, do you think you can sign the paper?
Professor: Sure, but before I do, can you remind me as to what other classes you’re taking this semester?
Student I’m taking two history courses this semester. That’s my major, of course. And I’m in a math class, too. Oh, I’m also taking Latin 2. It’s with Professor Reid. His class is a load of fun. And this class will give me five courses for the semester. It’s a full load, but I know that I can handle the work.
Professor Are you sure about that? If I remember correctly, the two history classes that you’re enrolled in require a large amount of reading. Professors Marrone and Davidson are not the easiest of graders you know.
Student: Hey! You do remember which classes I’m taking. Cool! But, to answer your question… Yes, these classes will take up a lot of my time, but I’ve already taken these professors before. I took a class with Professor Marrone my first year here and one with Professor Davidson last semester. So, I already know what both of them expect of their students. Plus, I got As in both of their classes, so I think that proves that I can definitely do the work.
Professor: That’s right. I remember congratulating you on that last semester. Well, it seems like you have all the bases covered. Let me have that form, and I’ll give it my signature.
Student Thank you so much, Professor Houston. You know, today is the last day for students to add classes, so I’m really glad that I caught up with you today.
Professor. In that case, you’d better get over to the Registrar’s Office now. It’s going to close in under thirty minutes.
Student Oh, I guess you’re right. See you.
Listen to part of a lecture in a European history class.
Professor. There were a number of major causes for the social and religious turmoil experienced in Europe during the fourteenth century. One of the most catastrophic for the people and society as a whole was what is known as the Black Death. Yes, I see that many of you have heard of it. You’ve probably even studied it before. Well, allow me to give you a quick refresher course on the Black Death, which has come to be known today as the bubonic plague. It originated somewhere in Asia, where it is said to have claimed the lives of around thirty million people, though this number is just an estimate. It could have been much higher… Or lower, I suppose. The plague then spread by sea trade, ships, into the Mediterranean and to the island Sicily, where it got its first foothold on Europe. The date of the beginning of its ghastly, horrific assault on Europe was probably around the mid-fourteenth century, most likely 1347 or 1348. Does anyone have any questions or comments at this juncture?
Student A: I do, Professor. You mentioned that it is now understood that the Black Death was a kind of bubonic plague. Do you mean there was only one strain of the disease? One type?
Professor Well, actually, no. It is generally understood today that the Black Death was essentially a bubonic plague, which is not really the complete story. Allow me to explain. We now know there were two different types of plagues associated with the Black Death in Europe during the time. One was the bubonic plague, as I have mentioned. Goodness, I hope that I haven’t caught it! Anyway, this was the more common of the two, as it affected the greatest number of people. It could only be contracted from fleas or rodents, and it attacked the lymph nodes in the body. Also, it was the lesser of the two evils since around half of the people who caught it died within a week or so. The second strain was the pneumonic plague, which was probably a mutation of the bubonic plague. It was highly contagious and passed from human to human like wildfire. The pneumonic plague affected the respiratory system, especially the lungs, and it was lethal to all the individuals who were unfortunate enough to contract it. Does that clear things up?
Student A: Yes, ma’am. Thank you. Um, another quick question. Why did the Black Death spread so quickly? Why couldn’t they contain it?
Professor: Well, I believe the simple answer to that question is that Europe did not realize what it had on its hands until it was too late. But, if we look a bit more closely at the conditions in Europe during the time, we can see how Europe was ripe for such an outbreak. First, populations were at an all-time high. Major cities were packed with people basically living on top of each other. City streets were crowded with citizens, and hygiene was not at the top of a fourteenth-century European’s list of priorities. Garbage and sewage often piled up along city streets and alleys, making them prime spots for the proliferation of bubonic plague-carrying rodents as well. So you see, class, the environments of the cities of Europe were primed and ready to host diseases such as the bubonic and pneumonic plagues. Yes, the filthy living conditions were definitely a major reason why the Black Death was so devastating to Europe. I mean, some accounts claim that disease-ridden corpses were piled up on the streets because coroners would not accept them out of fear of catching the plague themselves.
Student B: Oh, that’s awful, Professor! How long did it last?
Professor. I agree with you, Cynthia. It was a dark time for Europe. Death was more a part of their lives than living. And, to answer your question, again, population was everything. The more people there were in a city, the easier it was for the plague to thrive. If the population was sparse, the Black Death would usually run out of steam and run its course within a year. Conversely, densely populated areas could expect it to last for much longer. For the most part, the Black Death did the bulk of its devastation from 1348 to 1430, when it is estimated that around twenty million Europeans succumbed and died from it. That was about one third of the entire population of Europe back then, class, one in every three people. Again, some experts believe this number to be a very conservative estimate. When you consider that a city such as Paris, one of the worst affected cities, lost about half of its population, you can realize how cataclysmic the effects of the Black Death were on Europe at the time.