On Oct. 19, the History Department held initiation ceremonies at the Belmont Mansion for Phi Alpha Theta, the national history honor society. Inductees included Mary Lyn Albritton, Cody Cain, Matt Craft, Seth Granda, Kyle Moyer, Stephanie Downing, Abby Henry, David Suell and Chris Goodwin. Amanda Buckner, Steven Gallo, and Sydney Smith also met the requirements for membership this year but could not attend. The faculty advisor for the group, Dr. Cynthia Bisson, presided over the ceremonies.
The initiation ceremony was followed by a guest lecture from Dr. William Caferro, a leading economic historian of the medieval period in Europe, and the Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of History at Vanderbilt University. Professor Caferro offered an engrossing look into his research on the Italian City States at the time of the Black Death, specifically the problem of wages across different social groups during the period. His research suggests a challenge to the prevailing view that wages increased as a result of the Black Death (fewer people means a higher demand for labor), opening up some fascinating questions for understanding how markets worked during the 14th century. His talk was entitled “Petrarch’s War and the Meaning of Wages at the Time of the Black Death” and was included in this year’s larger campus theme of Wealth and Poverty.