Category Archives: Doing research

A Scholarship Cut Short: Donna Storey reflects on her time in Rome during COVID-19

At the beginning of March this year, I travelled to Italy to undertake research for my PhD thesis as a recipient of the ACIS/Cassamarca Dino De Poli Scholarship for 2020. My intention was initially to spend two weeks at the British School at Rome (BSR), before travelling north for around nine weeks to undertake archival research in Salò, Trento/Bolzano, and Trieste, before returning home in May. Little did I know upon my arrival at the BSR on Monday 2 March that, due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 Coronavirus, not only would I not be able to leave Rome and travel north, but that I would in fact have to leave Italy by the end of the month. 

When I arrived at the BSR, the virus had already been detected in Italy (primarily in Lombardy and Veneto), but infection numbers were still reasonably low, and I didn’t really think at this point that my travel would be impeded. Given that the outbreak was in the well-resourced north of Italy, I assumed that the virus would be contained reasonably quickly and there would be no ongoing major interruptions. How naïve and wrong I would turn out to be! Before I knew it, not only were the northern regions locked down, but so too was the entire country. All schools, libraries, universities and businesses were closed, with the exception of essential services (supermarkets, pharmacies, health professionals etc.). Social distancing measures were quickly introduced, both internally at the BSR, and if we were to venture outside. Permission slips were required to go out of the BSR, for example to the supermarket. Police could, and would, stop and check to ensure that anyone outside was there for a legitimate reason, and would readily issue fines if not. These measures seem standard procedure now; however, at the time, they were new, and a little unsettling. Continue reading

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Exploring Venice’s past and present

Jen McFarland, enrolled in a History MA at the University of Melbourne, spent September to December 2019 in Venice as an ACIS Save Venice Fellow researching the identity, status and activities of the pizzocchere (associations of lay religious women) in the city in the 16th century. It was not her first exploration of religion there. In 2019 the journal Renaissance Studies published her study of Catherine of Siena’s incorporation into the iconography held in the Dominican convent of Santi Giovanni e Paolo in the late 15th century, in particular the ways in which the convent wanted to emphasise Catherine’s status as a legitimate stigmatic and to promote the then-current Dominican reform. Jen has written an interesting piece summarising her recent stay in Venice which can be found here.

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ACIS – Save Venice fellowships for 2019

ACIS is very pleased to announce that Jen McFarland and Emma Barron have been awarded ACIS – Save Venice Fellowships for 2019.

Jen McFarland’s project, Pizzochere and public presence in late fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Venice, is a study of pizzochere (lay religious women), examining their identity, social status, and activities and drawing on material in the Archivio Storico Patriarcale di Venezia and the Archivio di Stato di Venezia, as well as painting cycles in the Gallerie dell’Accademia. Pizzochere groups held a significant social and charitable function in sixteenth-century Venice, offering vital spaces of assistance and agency for women of varied (but mostly vulnerable) social backgrounds.

Emma Barron’s project, Popular access to ideas about the modern world through mass culture in post-war Italy, examines social change and media coverage of the Venice Art Biennale and Venice Film Festival in the late 1960s, using materials from the Archivio Storico della Biennale di Venezia, Archivio dello Stato and the Biblioteca della Fondazione Querini Stampalia. She will analyse ideas about Venice as a site of glamour, wealth and film-stars and the events that led to Venice becoming a site of protest during the 1968 student demonstrations at the 34th Venice Art Biennale and the 29th Venice Film Festival.

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ACIS postgraduate scholarships for 2019

ACIS is delighted to congratulate the three winners of the ACIS Cassamarca postgraduate scholarships for research in Italy in 2019. Julia Pelosi-Thorpe (MA, Italian Studies (University of Melbourne) awarded the Dino De Poli Scholarship for her project ‘Imitate da Ovidio: gender ventriloquism in the seicento epistole eroiche’; Andrea Pagani (PhD, Literary and Cultural Studies, Monash University) for ‘Beyond Pinocchio: Italian National Identity in Carlo Collodi’s Works for Primary Schools (1877-1890)’; and Margherita Angelucci (PhD, Literary and Cultural Studies, Monash University) for ‘A New Way of Being Italian through the Lens of Hip Hop’. The abstracts for each project will be available shortly on the Winners page on our Scholarships menu.

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ACIS Research Group: History and Social Sciences

The first 3-year plan for the ACIS History and Social Sciences Research Group is available here. As its title, Trade, Textiles and Meaning in Italy: 1400-2018, suggests, the focus is on the nature and consequences of the high-end textile trade in Italy from the Renaissance onwards. The project begins with a specific object – the portrait of Isabella D’Este (1474-1539) by Titian – and explores the production and meaning of all the items of clothing, seen and not seen, that Isabella is wearing. The exploration is conducted in tandem with the IDEA (Isabella D’Este Archive) website, in relation where possible to the references to clothing and textiles in Isabella’s correspondence. The second part of the project examines similar themes in the contemporary world of ‘Made in Italy’, where many major producers using that descriptor are not Italian. Information on the activities and people involved in the project can be found in the plan and from the Research Group’s convenor, Catherine Kovesi.

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Nella nebbia di Milano: uno studio ciclo-etnografico – Note del 09/03/2018

Edda Orlandi   Università degli Studi di Milano

Qui in Milanesia la stagione delle nebbie è quasi giunta al termine, e presto si celebrerà l’inizio della stagione delle zanzare (che coincide più o meno con l’inizio della nostra primavera). Durante questa stagione si intensificano i viaggi rituali in bicicletta (noti come La Biciclettata Della Domenica) verso i più remoti confini dell’arcipelago milanesiano. IMG-20170404-WA0003L’inizio della stagione delle zanzare segna però, ahimé, la scadenza per inviare il mio primo report al comitato finanziatore, seccante ma necessaria incombenza al fine di ottenere i necessari contributi economici per proseguire la mia ricerca. Contributi economici tanto più necessari per il mio aver incautamente reclutato un assistente di ricerca sindacalizzato, che, appena assunto, ha subito proclamato uno sciopero della ricerca precaria per ottenere un aumento della preventivata retribuzione di mezza michetta al giorno, con minestra di verze domenicale.

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ACIS Cassamarca scholarships for postgraduate research in 2018

ACIS is very pleased to congratulate the winners of the ACIS Cassamarca scholarships for postgraduate research in Italy in 2018: Darius Sepehri (PhD, University of Sydney), “Reading the Renaissance anew: Giovanni Pico della Mirandola and his Islamic sources”; Lana Stephens (MA, Monash University), “Theologia ficinianum: intellectual exchange and spiritual renewal in Late Quattrocento Florence”; and, as winner of the 2018 Dino De Poli Scholarship, Madeleine Regan (PhD, Flinders University), “Archival research and transnational resources for establishing family market gardens and transplanting Veneto community in the western suburbs of Adelaide, 1920s–1970s”.

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Nella nebbia di Milano: uno studio ciclo-etnografico – Note del 19/09/2017

Edda Orlandi   Università degli Studi di Milano

Dopo i lunghi anni passati nella mia spietatamente, tediosamente e perennemente assolata patria a insegnare le noiose lezioni propedeutiche di “Antropologia milanesiana” agli studenti del corso di laurea in “Culture delle società brumose” sono finalmente riuscita a vincere un grant per IMG_20170919_151726continuare le mie ricerche. Sto partendo per la dolcemente nebbiosa Milanesia, mia mai dimenticata terra d’elezione e culla della mia tesi di dottorato “Malmostosità e festosità tra i nativi milanesiani: uno studio etnografico”. Ancora non mi capacito di come il comitato si sia finalmente deciso ad allentare i cordoni della borsa e concedermi un finanziamento per intraprendere questa nuova esplorazione della cultura milanesiana! Finanziamento ancora più sorprendente se considero che nel comitato siedono tre importanti capi tribù i cui figli e nipoti sono tra i numerosi studenti che non sono ancora riusciti a superare, dopo una dozzina di tentativi, l’esame del mio corso propedeutico… Bontà loro. Continue reading

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ACIS Cassamarca scholarships for 2016

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ACIS congratulates Tara Auty (UWA), Catherine Blake (Sydney) and Jessica O’Leary (Monash) on being awarded ACIS Cassamarca scholarships for postgraduate research in Italy in 2016. Tara Auty will be working on ‘Community Emotions and Genre: Italian Neo-Latin Epic and the Fall of Constantinople‘; Catherine Blake on ‘Unstable Ground: Vitale Da Bologna between Form and Modality‘; and Jessica O’Leary, who was awarded the inaugural Dino De Poli Scholarship, on ‘Women and Kinship Diplomacy: Negotiation, Gift Exchange, and News in the Familial Network of the Aragonese of Naples‘. Descriptions of their projects can be found here. The Scholarships Committee noted that the applications were again of a very high standard and regretted that its budget prevented it from making more than three awards.

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Site of Resistance: The Popular Piety of Santa Maria delle Carceri in Prato

 Shannon Gilmore   University of California, Santa Barbara

260px-Prato,_Santa_Maria_delle_CarceriThis summer I enjoyed a month-long sojourn in Florence to expand my dissertation project on Central Italian miraculous image cults established in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, specifically the cult of Santa Maria delle Carceri in Prato. My trip got off to a promising start: I had the good fortune to attend the special mass marking the anniversary of Santa Maria delle Carceri’s first miracle. I was immediately grateful that I had arrived early to snag a seat, as the interior of Giuliano da Sangallo’s church was bursting at the seams with the faithful whose eyes were fixed on the miraculous image of the Virgin and Child with Saints Leonard and Stephen (c. 1350) above the high altar. The cult’s continuing significance to the diocese of Prato was immediately evident as a television cameraman ducked in and out of the tightly packed crowd to capture a perfect shot of the bishop who proudly wore a vestment bearing a screen-printed copy of the Marian image.

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