On April 28, 2022 the Center for Medieval Studies returned to tradition and welcomed Elizabeth Comuzzi, the newest Medieval Studies faculty member, to give a talk based on her findings from the archives of the Catalan town Puigcerdà. Professor Comuzzi comes to us from UCLA, where she earned her PhD in History. She is currently an Associate Professor in the History Department at Fordham where she teaches courses on all aspects of medieval history, but with a focus on her specialty, medieval Iberia.

Professor Comuzzi’s talk focussed on an evaluation of the so-called “Crisis of the Fourteenth Century” which historians have traditionally viewed as a period of a generalized decline in Western Europe due to famine, war, and a general decline in economic activity. Based on the city’s registers, Professor Comuzzi presented an alternative explanation for the decline of Puigcerdà’s population in the fourteenth century. The city’s population was shaped more by the institutions and the political rulers of the time than by any kind of overall economic decline. To make this argument, Professor Comuzzi employed neo-institutional theory and some more concepts from modern economics.

Her research is at the cutting edge of database methods, archival investigation, and the interdisciplinary employment of theories. Following her presentation, there was a lively discussion including members of the Fordham faculty and graduate students. The Center for Medieval Studies is delighted to have Professor Commuzzi as a member of our community and team and we are all waiting with great excitement for the publication of her first book.