Ravarino Lecture: William Caferro (Vanderbilt)


Location: Rare Books & Special Collections (102 Hesburgh Library) & Zoom

William Caferro

The Spring lectures are being planned in a hybrid online and in-person format. Please register here


"Pandemic and Wages in Boccaccio’s Florence"

The Center for Italian Studies presents the sixth annual Ravarino Lecture on April 7, 2022. This year's lecture will be delivered by William Caferro of Vanderbilt University.

Prof. Caferro's lecture is about wages and economy in Boccaccio's Florence, which, like today, was time of pandemic. It examines the period from 1341 to 1400, and moves beyond traditional wage studies that have focused exclusively on day crafts wages to look at various labor forces and factors beyond pandemic that affected rates. The talk derives from a archival database compiled over twenty years that demonstrated that wages moved in a variety of directions according to the labor forces, and that most notably Machiavelli's "greedy" mercenaries earned progressively amid pandemic and frequent wars that should have instead raised their pay.

William Caferro is Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of History and Professor of Classical and Mediterranean Studies at Vanderbilt University. His articles have appeared in Speculum, Dante Studies, The Journal of Modern History, The Journal of Economic History, Società e storia, The Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies, Common Knowledge, Heliotropia among others. His research has been supported by fellowships from Villa I Tatti (Harvard Center for Renaissance Studies), the Institute for Advanced Study, the Italian Academy for Advanced Study (Columbia University) and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. He is currently a member of the Deputazione di Storia Patria di Toscana and l'Associazione di Studi Storici Elio Conti in Italy and is serving a term (2017-2019) on the Executive Council of the Dante Society of America.

Professor Caferro teaches surveys of Western Civilization and medieval Europe, and upper level courses in pre-modern European economic history and a graduate class on historiography. Caferro is recipient of the Undergraduate Outstanding Teacher Award at the University of Tulsa (1997), the Madison Sarratt Prize for Excellence in Teaching at Vanderbilt (2002) and Graduate Teaching Award for the School of Arts and Sciences at Vanderbilt (2016).

His current book project examines the intersection among war, culture, and economy in Florence from 1337 to 1402.

Each year, thanks to the Albert J. and Helen M. Ravarino Family Endowment for Excellence, the Center for Italian Studies sponsors a public lecture by a distinguished scholar of Italian Studies.