BSR Online Lecture | Three decrees of separation: community, culture and contagion in pre-modern Italy

WEDNESDAY 24 JUNE 18.00–19.30 CET

Stephen Milner (BSR)

This virtual lecture will take place using the online platform, Zoom.

The recent revival of interest in governmental decrees in Italy due to the COVID-19 pandemic serves as a point of departure for this paper which looks back to Florentine plague decrees of the fifteenth-century to examine the ambivalence of community in terms of the strengths and weaknesses inherent in social aggregation. Pre-modern social distancing, travel bans, quarantine and contact tracing were little different then from contemporary containment measures. Through a reading of the Proemio and Introduction of Boccaccio’s Decameron, the paper will reflect on the role of literature in securing wellbeing and as mediating desire at times of enforced distancing, ending with some thoughts on the relation of recent events to the concept of an epidemiology of culture.

Stephen holds a first-class BA and MA from the University of Cambridge, and a Ph.D. from the Warburg Institute, University of London. He has lectured at the University of Cambridge and the University of Bristol, and has served as Serena Professor of Italian, Chair of Italian Studies and Head of Department at the University of Manchester. He is a member of the Executive Committees of the Society for Italian Studies and of the Società Dante Alghieri, Manchester, and is a member of the AHRC Peer Review College. He has also been the Honorary Secretary of the Society for Renaissance Studies. He has published widely in the field of Italian late medieval and Renaissance studies, including books on Boccaccio and Machiavelli amongst others. He has held research fellowships at the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies, Villa I Tatti (Florence), the Houghton Library (Harvard) and at the BSR, where he also served as a member of FAHL from 2007 to 2013, before returning as Director in 2017.

Please register here as places are limited.