Italian Research Seminar: Rachel Midura (Virginia Tech)


Location: Rare Books and Special Collections 102 Hesburgh Library

Midura Image
Image courtesy of Stanford University

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

The Center for Italian Studies is pleased to host a lecture by Professor Rachel Midura of Virginia Tech University titled:

Deadly Letters: Plague, Banditry, and Heresy in Early Modern Mail

By the mid sixteenth-century, continental Europe depended upon mail for the ordinary pulse of governance and commerce. Communications networks remained as vulnerable as the humans who carried the letters. As a contemporary proverb put it, “he who rides by post, plays with death." I use state archives from across Italy to explore how protecting postal couriers from brigandage, plague, and political or religious rebellion shaped international relations. The expansion of state-sponsored postal systems into carrying private mail relied upon surveilling and intervening into a contentious public sphere.

Rachel Midura is Assistant Professor of Early Modern European and Digital History at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. She is at work on her first book, Princes of the Post: Power, Publicity, and Europe’s Communications Revolution (1500-1700) on the origins of Europe's postal systems. Her recent article, "Itinerating Europe," appeared in the Journal of Social History in summer 2021, in which she uses social network analysis to compare conceptions of space in postal itineraries published from the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries. She finished her PhD in early modern European history in 2020 at Stanford University, where she was also a senior graduate research fellow at the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis.

The event is co-sponsored by the Department of History at Notre Dame.