Joshua Rushton


Prior to moving to Leeds, I completed my BA in History at the University of Warwick. My undergraduate dissertation focussed on the consequences of Tridentine reform for Catholic laywomen and was awarded the Dr Gregory Wells dissertation award. I remained at Warwick for my interdisciplinary MA in Renaissance Studies. My MA dissertation investigated the impact of the Roman Inquisition’s clampdown on superstition and witchcraft on the spiritual lives of Catholic laypeople and was awarded the Sir Jonathan Hale dissertation award. Both my BA and MA included terms spent in Venice at Warwick’s teaching base there, which gave me an opportunity to immerse myself in Venetian culture, history, and archives. My time living and working in Italy was integral to the early development of my doctoral project. 

Research interests

My PhD coalesces around three key themes: belief, practice, and reform. Specifically, the project seeks to understand how ordinary Catholics in early modern Venice experienced and reacted to religious change. Drawing on a range of sources, including inquisitorial trials, confraternity records, and religious material culture, my project investigates the Venetian laity’s relationship with the sacred during the Catholic Reform. How did ordinary Catholics in Counter-Reformation Venice interact with sacred powers? How did the disciplining efforts of the Tridentine Church to impose spiritual conformity amongst the laity alter their very understanding of the sacred? In asking these questions, my project contributes to Counter-Reformation scholarship by bringing the ‘everyday’ Catholic to the centre of the study of religious culture.

My research is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) through the White Rose College of the Arts and Humanities (WRoCAH). 


‘Reading Love Magic in Sixteenth-century Italy: The Cases of Andriana Savorgnan and Lucrezia the Greek’, The Enquiring Eye Journal of the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic, 1 (2017), 40-44

Scholarships and Awards

2019 – White Rose College of the Arts and Humanities (AHRC) Doctoral Training Partnership

2019 – Martin Lowry Award (for highest overall achievement in MA Renaissance Studies) 

2019 – Sir Jonathan Hale MA Dissertation Prize (Renaissance Studies)

2018 – Warwick Taught MA Scholarship 

2018 – Dr Gregory Wells Interdisciplinary BA Dissertation Prize (Faculty of Arts) 


  • MA Renaissance Studies (Distinction)
  • BA (Hons) History (First Class)