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William John ("Bill") Connell (born July 22, 1958) is an American historian and holder of the Joseph M. and Geraldine C. La Motta Chair in Italian Studies at Seton Hall University.[1][2] He is a leading specialist in Italian history, Early Modern European history and the history of Italian Americans. In 2019 he was named an Andrew Carnegie Fellow.[3]

William J. Connell
William Connell in Santiago.jpg
William J. Connell in Santiago, Chile, 2014
BornJuly 22, 1958
ResidenceClinton, New Jersey, U.S.
EducationB.A. Yale; Ph.D. UC Berkeley
EmployerSeton Hall University

Early life and educationEdit

Connell was educated at the Trinity School (New York City), Bronxville High School, and Yale University, where he belonged to Saybrook College and the Manuscript Society and received his B.A. in 1980 summa cum laude. After an internship with U.S. Senator Lowell Weicker and a job as a gardener on the island of Elba,[4] he worked in banking for the Manufacturers Hanover Trust Company and then as research assistant for columnist Joseph Alsop before entering graduate school in History at the University of California, Berkeley, where he received his Ph.D. in 1989.


Connell taught history at Reed College in Portland, OR, and at Rutgers University before moving to Seton Hall University in 1998. From 2003 to 2007 he was Founding Director of the Charles and Joan Alberto Italian Studies Institute.[5] He has been a Fulbright Scholar to Italy, an I Tatti Fellow, a Member of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton and a Juror for the Rome Prize of the American Academy in Rome. Since 1992 he has been Secretary of the Journal of the History of Ideas. He is a Corresponding Fellow of the Deputazione di Storia Patria per la Toscana and the Società Pistoiese di Storia Patria, and a member of the Grolier Club of New York City. From 2002 to 2005, and again in 2009-2010, he served on the New Jersey Italian and Italian American Commission as a gubernatorial appointee.[6][7] He was co-chair of the Trustees and chair of the Academic Advisors of the Italian American Heritage Institute at Rutgers University from 2002 to 2005. In 2011 he received the Presidential Award of the Columbian Foundation.[8] His NPR broadcast, "Machiavelli Faces Unemployment," won the Listener Choice Award as the favorite "Academic Minute" of 2011-2012.[9] In 2013 The Irish Voice named him to its Education 100—the top US educators of Irish ancestry. Seton Hall University awarded him its Granato Italian Culture Medal in 2016.


An interest in the territory that surrounded and supported the city of Florence during the Renaissance[10][11] resulted in his book, La città dei crucci: fazioni e clientele in uno stato repubblicano del ʼ400, a study of the social networks underpinning the factionalism of republican Florence and her subject city of Pistoia. His study of the Lombard nobleman Gaspare Pallavicino resulted in a new reading of the narrative framework and the discussion of the female courtier in Baldassarre Castiglione's Book of the Courtier.[12][13] Sacrilege and Redemption in Renaissance Florence (2005; rev. 2d ed. 2008), co-authored with Giles Constable, recounts the case of a man who was hanged for throwing dung at a painting of the Virgin Mary and has been published in Italian, Spanish, Russian, Romanian and Farsi translations.

Connell’s archival research on the life and career of Niccolò Machiavelli resulted in a widely praised translation of The Prince (2005, rev. 2d ed. 2016)[14][15][16] and several important essays.[17][18][19] In 2013 Connell solved a longstanding philological problem, previously considered a puzzle "awaiting its Rosetta Stone,"[20] by showing that Machiavelli completed The Prince in its final version in the spring of 1515.[21] His essays were collected in the Italian volume Machiavelli nel Rinascimento italiano (2015). In 2016, on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the publication of Utopia by Thomas More, he demonstrated connections between Machiavelli and the circle around More and Erasmus.[22]

Connell has contributed to the revitalization of Italian American studies. The Routledge History of Italian Americans,[23] which he co-edited with Stanislao G. Pugliese, is the first scholarly history of the five centuries of the experience of Italians in America.

In research on Italian explorers in the early Atlantic world, including Christopher Columbus, Connell explains that these navigators happened to be Italian because declining commercial prospects in the eastern Mediterranean (a consequence of Ottoman conquests) meant that Italian financiers became willing to invest in the first risky European expeditions into the Atlantic.[24]

In recent years Connell's research has focused on the Renaissance revolution in historical thought and on connections between northern and southern Europe in the Early Modern period.[25][26]

Connell has lectured at the Institute for Universal History of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow, the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa, and the Fondazione Luigi Firpo in Turin. In 2011 he was an accreditation visitor at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. He serves on the editorial boards of 13 academic journals and monograph series, and he has written occasional pieces and reviews for the Times Literary Supplement, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, The American Scholar, Clarín (Argentina) and Timpul (Romania).


Connell is the son of William F. Connell, an artist, of Great Barrington, Massachusetts, and Marilyn Moore, an editor and actress, of New York City. He is married to Nikki Shepardson, a historian of Christianity, with whom he has two daughters. A first marriage ended in divorce.

Connell is a resident of Clinton, New Jersey.[27]



  1. ^ Connell, William J. "University Profile".
  2. ^ Connell, William J. "William Connell on".
  3. ^ "Andrew Carnegie Fellows".
  4. ^ "Giovedi sera Chiostro de Laugier: presentazione letteraria-happening con Bill Connell". Elba Report. June 20, 2007.
  5. ^ "Charles and Joan Alberto Italian Studies Institute".
  6. ^ "State of New Jersey - Italian & Italian American Heritage Commission".
  7. ^ "PolitickerNJ Wire Feed".
  8. ^ "Columbian Foundation Award Extravaganza".
  9. ^ "WAMC Northeast Public Radio (July 24, 2012)".
  10. ^ Connell, William J. (1988). "Il commissario e lo stato territoriale fiorentino". Ricerche storiche. 18 (3): 591–617.
  11. ^ Connell, William J. (1991). "Clientelismo e stato territoriale: il potere fiorentino a Pistoia nel secolo XV". Società e storia. 14 (53): 523–543.
  12. ^ Connell, William J. (1999). "Un rito iniziatico nel Libro del Cortegiano di Baldassar Castiglione". Annali della Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa. Classe di Lettere e Filosofia. 4. 4 (2): 473–497 + plates.
  13. ^ Connell, William J. (2002). "Gasparo and the Ladies: Coming of Age in Castiglione's Book of the Courtier". Quaderni d'italianistica. 23 (1): 5–23.
  14. ^ Margo Nash (March 13, 2005). "Machiavelli, Jersey Guy". The New York Times.
  15. ^ Baldassarri, Stefano U. (2006). "The Taming of the Secretary: Reflections on Some English Translations of Machiavelli's Il Principe". Journal of Italian Translation. 1 (2): 235–252.
  16. ^ Guccione, Cristina (2009). "A Stylistic Analysis of the English Translations of Machiavelli's The Prince: Mansfield, Skinner and Connell". Storia e politica. 1 (3): 476–504.
  17. ^ Connell, William J. (2013). "La Lettera di Machiavelli a Vettori del 10 December 1513". Archivio storico italiano. 171: 665–723.
  18. ^ Connell, William J. (2001). "Machiavelli on Growth as an End". Historians and Ideologues: Studies in Early Modern Intellectual History in Honor of Donald R. Kelley: 259–277.
  19. ^ Connell, William J. (2000). "The Republican Idea". Renaissance Civic Humanism: Reappraisals and Reflections: 14–29.
  20. ^ Larivaille, Paul (2009). "In attesa della Stele di Rosetta. Appunti sulla cronistoria di un rompicapo machiavelliano". Filologia e critica. 34: 261–281.
  21. ^ Connell, William J. (2013). "Dating The Prince: Beginnings and Endings". Review of Politics. 75: 497–514. doi:10.1017/S0034670513000557.
  22. ^ Connell, William J. (December 2, 2016). "Machiavelli's Utopia". Times Literary Supplement: 15–17.
  23. ^ Connell, William J.; Pugliese, Stanislao G. (2018). The Routledge History of Italian Americans. New York. ISBN 9780415835831.
  24. ^ Connell, William J. (2018). "Italians in the Early Atlantic World". The Routledge History of Italian Americans: 17–41.
  25. ^ Connell, William J. (2011). "The Eternity of the World and Renaissance Historical Thought". California Italian Studies. 2 (1): 1–23.
  26. ^ Connell, William J. (2012). "Italian Renaissance Historical Narrative". Oxford History of Historical Writing. 3: 347–363.
  27. ^ Fusco, Mary Ann Castronovo. "In Person; In Defense Of Columbus", The New York Times, October 8, 2000. Accessed June 30, 2019. "Mr. Connell, who was raised by parents of Irish, German, and Welsh descent in the Bronx and Westchester, has so enthusiastically embraced Italian culture that he reads fairy tales in Italian to his 16-month-old daughter, Zoe, at the Clinton home he shares with his wife, Nikki Shepardson, who teaches history at Rider University."

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