Why did death and the dead matter so much to urban communities? Focusing on the city of Venice, this paper evaluates the entanglement of death with religious and social change.
We will kick off this academic year’s seminar series with a paper by Alexandra Bamji. Around 5,000 people died each year in pre-modern Venice. This paper seeks to answer the question: what happened to the bodies? It finds that the living’s encounters with dead bodies were mediated by sensory experience, the city’s unique physical environment, public health strategies, and religious change. In exploring the place of the death in the urban landscape, this study challenges historiographical narratives of secularization, and highlights the prominence and movement of the dead body in urban space. In arguing that the dead remained an important part of urban communities, this study raises new questions about temporality in early modern cities. This research has been supported by grants from the Arts and Humanities Research Council and British Academy, and by a fellowship at Villa I Tatti: The Harvard University Center for Renaissance Studies.
The seminar will be followed by drinks - all are welcome. Please note that the venue has been changed to BG3!