This week’s Core 100 lecture is “Pandemic: The Plague of 1348,” with Dr. Gerry Milligan.

Description: The Black Death of 1348 is often referred to as the greatest human catastrophe in recorded history. The plague was documented on three continents and killed between 30 and 50 percent of the population of the affected area. This lecture will give a brief historical introduction to the plague, as well as discuss how it might resonate with our own pandemic, COVID-19. It will also discuss the Introduction to Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron (1351), which offers not only an eyewitness account of the plague but also a reflection on the societal responses to the fear and horror of such massive devastation. These ten pages of the Decameron move the reader to not only consider our own pandemic, but to reflect on how they might react in a moment when one could easily think it was the end of the world.

A PDF of the Introduction to Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron (1351), that accompanies this lecture is available upon request.  Please email Donna Scimeca [] to have it emailed to you.

Dr. Gerry Milligan is an advocate of literature and pre-modern studies, and is therefore delighted to bring both of these to the COR E 100 lecture series. He is a Professor of Italian and currently serves as the Director of Macaulay and Verrazano Honors. He has served as Interim Dean of the Humanities and Social Sciences and Chair of the Department of World Languages and Literatures. His research focuses broadly on gendered identity in Italian Renaissance literature, and he has written articles on such diverse topics as cross-dressing in 16th-Century comedy, the rhetorical use of effeminacy, and the heroines of the sacred poems of Lucrezia Tornabuoni. With Jane Tylus, he co-edited The Poetics of Masculinity in Early Modern Italy and Spain (2010). In 2007-2008, he received a fellowship at Villa I Tatti-The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies, and it was there that he began his work on Moral Combat: Women, Gender, and War in Italian Renaissance Literature (University of Toronto Press, 2018), which won honorable mention from the MLA Scaglione Prize for best manuscript in Italian Studies. His current book project, The Appearance of Softness, will explore effeminacy in the Italian Renaissance.  

By the Division of Academic Affairs