Lorenzo Calvelli
Roman History

What do you teach at Ca’ Foscari? What are your main research interests?
I am from Venice, I am a historian and I am proud to teach in the city where I was born and raised. My research focuses on ancient history and trends in Roman written communication, with an emphasis on epigraphy. I am also passionate about investigating how the past is used, that is, how the memory of past events can be continuously manipulated. Even monuments can be subject to material and conceptual reuses, leading to new interpretations, continuous subjective distortions and even fabrications. Venice is a city without a classical past, but over the centuries it has developed a complex functional and ideological relation with the ancient world: St Mark's Square is a magnificent open-air classroom, to where I love to take students for classes.

What led you to pursue a research career?
I obtained my degree in Roman History and my PhD in Archaeology and History of Mediterranean Countries at Ca' Foscari. Even as a student, however, I spent long periods of study abroad and had the chance to complete my training at the universities of Warwick, Cyprus, London and Paris. After my PhD, I benefited from scholarships at foreign institutions that have deeply marked my scientific background (the American Academy in Rome, the Warburg Institute in London and the Harvard branch in Florence). In 2011 I returned to Ca' Foscari, first as a researcher and now as an associate professor. Although I still occasionally escape abroad, I am happy to teach in Venice, because I firmly believe in the role that culture and research can play as an alternative to mass tourism.

Can you offer any advice to researchers in the early stages of their career?
Research is like your heart: it cannot be ruled! We like to study only what we are really passionate about. Sometimes this can create problems, because what we do does not fit into the disciplinary fences into which bureaucracy would like to enclose everything. But innovation and the desire to expand our knowledge are stronger. In my field, I am particularly excited by the fact that new discoveries (archaeological, epigraphic or of handwritten texts) offer the opportunity to continuously rewrite history. The beauty of humanistic research is that it lets us develop critical knowledge and look at our world with greater awareness.

Last update: 20/07/2023