What do you teach at Ca’ Foscari? What are your main research interests?
I have worked in the field of social and institutional history, focusing above all on conflict in early mediaeval and modern times, understood as an original feature of European history and a trend that ultimately led to a specific form of consensus organisation, today's political democracy. This brought about my studies on the so-called 17th-century Italian decadence, which then centred on the ‘exemplary’ story of the second city of the State of Milan, Cremona, whose history I also edited in the volume dedicated to the "Spanish" age. At the same time, I have studied the conditions of lower classes by reconstructing the archives of religious places in Cremona from the fourteenth to the eighteenth century and organising an international conference on charity and social discipline in modern Italy. I extensively studied the so-called 1525 German Peasants' War and revealed that one of its most famous texts, attributed to the Tyrolean ‘peasant’ leader Michael Gaismair, is a spontaneously generated fake. Later, I restructured historiography epistemologically, based on a metadisciplinary approach involving modern sciences, especially life sciences (cognitive neuroscience, genetics, ethology, evolutionary psychology, etc.). I have been involved in microcomputing applied to texts since its inception and have long represented the Faculty of Literature at the Ca' Foscari Computing Centre.
What led you to pursue a research career?
After graduating from the University of Milan and five years as an assistant professor of Art History at the Brera Academy, I arrived in Venice in 1980 as a lecturer-researcher and then associate professor of History of Ancient Italian States, when the History Degree Programme was created. From 2000 I then held the chair of Modern History as a full professor until my retirement due to the age limit in 2017. Since then I have been a board member of a well-known publisher, for which I have created a number of series — Sudi di storia europea protomoderna ("Studies of Proto-modern European History''), Lo scudo d'Achille (''Achilles' Shield"), La porta dei demoni ("The Door of the Demons''), Così parlò la volpe ("Thus Spoke the Fox"), Maelström - studi di storia delle religioni e dell'occulto ("Maelström - Studies in the History of Religions and the Occult").
What has given you the greatest satisfaction in your career?
Without a shred of doubt, and infinitely above all others (which have been there), is my relationship with students, which makes this the most beautiful job in the world and the only true elixir of life. Then, in the last twenty years of my career, assisting and supporting the long, silent, unstoppable earthquake in our society that has been the cultural and moral growth of girls, who are fulfilling without too much noise what feminists had only claimed.