I would like to thank the Center for the Study of the Renaissance at the University of Warwick for the tremendous opportunity to pursue research in both Venice and England as a Warwick/Newberry Visiting Research Fellow. I am an Assistant Professor in the history department at the City University of New York, Queensborough and my research focuses on gender and family ties in early modern Italy. As a Visiting Research Fellow, I spent a total of nine weeks with the University of Warwick; six weeks were spent in Venice and three weeks in England in order to pursue my research project, which investigates the intersections of female friendship and family ties in the creation of communities in early modern Italy.
My project specifically examines gender relations and family networks formed through correspondence between women and men in Florentine merchant families. When I arrived in Venice I gave a talk on my current research. The comments and discussion following the talk from the University of Warwick faculty and students were incredibly helpful to my project and enabled me to establish new connections in Venice. I really benefitted from the collegial environment at the University of Warwick-in-Venice program. The center in the Palazzo Pesaro-Papafava provided a wonderful setting for meeting other students and scholars working in Venetian history and art history.
While in Venice I worked in the Archivio di Stato, or State Archives, where I examined both family papers and court records to uncover female networks in Venetian society. Working in the Venetian archives allowed me to expand beyond my focus on Florence to raise questions about the function of friendship, family, and patronage in a variety of early modern Italian contexts. In particular, I investigated family correspondence from women and men in the Grimani and Cappello families. One set of letters between a husband and wife reveal the collaboration and contestation that occurred within marital relationships in patrician families and the wider networks of family members and friends that they drew upon in Venetian society. I intend to use the research from this family correspondence to produce an article for a journal.
Sources such as family papers and court records provide a window into the private emotions and values held by women and men, enabling one to examine not only what relationship were formed but even how people felt about friendship and family. In order to expand my research beyond the patrician class, I began investigating court records from the Avogaria di Comun, Esecutori contro la Bestemmia, and Sant’Uffizio (or Inquisition records) in the State Archives. I also looked at marital cases brought to the Patriarchal Court, which are held in the Archivio della Curia Patriarchale in Venice. The large amount of material found in the court records ensures that this research is very preliminary, but it provides many opportunities for future research.
Events organized by the University of Warwick, such as a behind the scenes tour of the Venetian State Archives and an introduction to working in the Archivio della Curia Patriarchale, greatly enhanced my stay and provided support for my research. Access to the University of Warwick’s library as well as other libraries throughout Venice enabled me to find the books needed to provide a context for the archival work. Additionally, I benefitted from the help of the University of Warwick faculty, particularly Dr. Louise Bourdua and Dr. Donal Cooper who were incredibly helpful throughout my stay in Venice. I enjoyed meeting and working with the masters and doctoral students in both academic and social settings. The annual Convegno held at the end of the semester at the University of Warwick brought together scholars in medieval and early modern Italian studies, which produced a thought provoking and stimulating discussion from which my research will undoubtedly benefit.
The fellowship also enabled me to travel to Florence for several days where I worked in the Archivio di Stato di Firenze (State Archives) to examine how networks formed between Florentine and Venetian families. In particular, I looked at correspondence found between the Venetian Cappello and Florentine Medici family members in the mid-sixteenth century. This opportunity allowed me to build connections between my research in Florence and new work in Venice.
I continued to build on these connections and to meet more scholars in my field by returning to the University of Warwick in England for several weeks after leaving Venice. I worked in the University of Warwick’s library as well as traveled to use the libraries at Oxford University. I also used this opportunity to write a draft of an article from the archival research in Venice, which was presented in a preliminary form in a seminar hosted by the Center for the Study of the Renaissance at the University of Warwick. The feedback and comments from this seminar will be an enormous help in revising and producing a final article for publication. I particularly benefitted from interacting with University of Warwick faculty such as Dr. Penny Roberts, Dr. David Lines, Dr. Ingrid de Smet, and Dr. Rosa Salzberg in addition to those faculty members whom I met in Venice. The research fellows at the Center for the Study of the Renaissance were also very helpful and generously shared their office space throughout my stay in England.
The archives in Venice and the libraries in England have provided me with a fantastic amount of new material for research. The connections that I have made with other scholars in early modern Italian history and art history are invaluable and will greatly benefit my future career. I would like to thank everyone from the faculty, staff, and students at the University of Warwick for all their help and to thank the Center for the Study of the Renaissance for this wonderful opportunity!
Piazza San Marco, Venice
Radcliffe Camera, Oxford University