The Este courts and the material culture of pilgrimage in Quattro- and Cinquecento Italy
I research the material culture of pilgrimage in fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Italy, with a focus on the Este family and the ways in which the practice and concept of pilgrimage impacted patronage in the courts of Ferrara and Mantua. My dissertation will investigate the development of pilgrimage past the medieval into the early modern period, and will raise questions about the multifaceted motivations behind undertaking a pilgrimage, the place of popular devotional practices in the lives of the Italian nobility, the role of public performances of piety in cultivating a ruler's image, as well as how and why pilgrimage was represented or alluded to in the artistic commissions and collections of Italian courts. In addition to pilgrimage and court culture, my broader academic interests include medieval and early modern cross-cultural exchange, travel, and diplomacy; the history of scientific inquiry and instruments; and the ideal built environment, both in terms of architecture and urbanism.
Recently I have also branched into two projects related to sensory studies. I am co-organising an interdisciplinary conference on the theme of "Pilgrimage and the Senses" (hosted at Oxford on 7 June 2019; CfP deadline 20 January 2019) to explore how pilgrimages were experienced sensorially across cultures and throughout history. I am also co-organiser of Talking Sense, a 2018–19 research group bringing together Oxford early career researchers from diverse disciplines to shed new light on the permanent collection of the Ashmolean Museum through a series of interdisciplinary gallery talks.