When in Florence

Anne-Laurence Caudano, professor, history department, U of W

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For Anne-Laurence Caudano, a professor in the University of Winnipeg’s (U of W) history department, her love of the past began in childhood.

“I always wanted to do something historical,” Caudano says.

Growing up, she aspired to be an archaeologist. But due to some good advice from a high-school teacher, Caudano diverted from archaeology and pursued history instead. She then went on to specialize in medieval history, as well as the histories of science and astronomy.

“I became really fascinated with these questions about how people explained the heavens,” she says.

Caudano also has a healthy interest in ancient languages. In fact, one of her favourite parts of her job is deciphering timeworn scripts.

“I love manuscripts,” she says. “I love digging in these things and finding texts that people have not read, necessarily, and study(ing) that.”

With so many historical writings now being digitized, Caudano is happy with how accessible scripts are becoming – save for one minor inconvenience.

“I mean, in a way I’m a bit sad now I can’t tell the university ‘I absolutely have to go to Florence because of a manuscript there,’” she says. “Now they had to put everything online, and I don’t have that excuse anymore!”

All jokes aside, Caudano very much appreciates how easily she can access a great variety of texts.

Even if reading them can get boring at times, there’s something about the potential for discovery that always seems to spark Caudano’s interest.

And perhaps one day, Caudano’s love of manuscripts will land her a ticket to Florence. It might not, but one can always hope.

What’s the best thing about your work?

“I love my colleagues. I think they’re fun.”

What do you like to do in your spare time?

“When I can, I love to work out.”

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

“I’d actually love to be able to read all my stuff (manuscripts) without struggling with the dictionary.”

If you could understand one text perfectly, what would it be?

“It’s something called the Almagest.”

Published in Volume 76, Number 4 of The Uniter (October 1, 2021)

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