The Invisible Enemy: Fighting the Plague in Florence, 1630 - Part 1 of 2

Sponsored by Bing Overseas Studies Program


Wednesday, April 21, 2021
10:00 am – 11:00 am
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Patient 0: The Story of the Poulterer from Bologna

The Plague Enters the City

Please join us for a two-part series dedicated to the 1630 Plague in Florence with noted historian and Stanford in Florence instructor, Giulia Calvi, who will lead us on a journey through the city of Florence and its environs as she tells us about how the plague spread and was handled almost 400 years ago and what history has to teach us about today’s global pandemic. How did people in the past centuries cope with mass disease and sudden death? How did they survive, resist, and reorganize society? Epidemics are exceptional moments in history that bring out important continuities and turning points. They are key elements of change in health care, medical institutions, and public hygiene; they shed light on social inequalities and poverty; they underline the crucial importance of the environment and the many ways in which it was shaped and in turn affected humans throughout the centuries. The first session will also feature an interview with Marco Geddes, past medical director of Florence’s Santa Maria Nuova Hospital and former Florence city council member for public health as well as the author of La sanità ai tempi del coronavirus (Healthcare in the Time of Coronavirus), published in 2020.

Format: Pre-recorded with live q&a

Giulia Calvi was Full Professor of Early Modern History in the Department of Scienze Storiche e dei Beni Culturali at the University of Siena (2002-2004; 2012-2015). From 2004 to 2012 she was Chair of “Gender History in Europe and the World (XVI-XIX)” at the Department of History and Civilization at the European University Institute in Florence. Calvi is the recipient of Fulbright and British Academy fellowships, and was a fellow at Villa I Tatti, the Harvard Center for Italian Renaissance Studies. She was also Visiting Professor at Princeton University, Kratter Visiting Professor at Stanford’s History Department, and visiting professor at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris and Marseille. In 2012 she was appointed Chair of Italian Culture in the Italian Studies Department at the University of California (Berkeley).

Calvi’s main publications and research interests are in the field of early modern cultural and social history. She has studied medical practice in times of epidemics (Histories of a Plague Year: The Social and the Imaginary in Baroque Florence, California University Press 1989); family relations (Il Contratto Morale: Madri e figli nella Toscana Moderna, 1994); women’s writings and autobiographies (Barocco al femminile, 1992; La Mujer Barroca, 1995); court culture and female courts (with R. Spinelli (ed), Le Donne Medici nel sistema europeo delle corti, Firenze 2008). Her recent publications investigate the circulation of images, texts and material culture in and beyond Europe.