Dr Joshua Rushton


Prior to moving to Leeds, I completed my BA in History at the University of Warwick where I remained for my interdisciplinary MA in Renaissance Studies. Both my BA and MA included terms spent in Venice at Warwick’s teaching base there, which gave me the opportunity to immerse myself in Venetian culture, history, and archives. My time living and working in Italy was integral to the development of my doctoral project.

I completed my PhD, ‘The Sacred City: Urban Devotion and Catholic Reform in Venice, 1545-1693’, in November 2023 and I am currently a Visiting Research Fellow in the School of History at Leeds. During this time, I am developing publications based on my doctoral work. In particular, I am in the process of revising my thesis into a monograph provisionally entitled A City’s Faith: Reform, Devotion, and the Sacred in Venice, 1500-1750. I am also beginning work on my postdoctoral project which comparatively examines miracle culture, Catholic identity, and confessional mobility in Italy and England during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.  

From January 2024, I kindly ask that any communications are sent to my updated email address J.Rushton@leeds.ac.uk rather than the one listed at the beginning of this profile. 

Research interests

My PhD project dealt with early modern Catholic reform, sacred materiality, and changing worldviews. I examined shifting ideas about sacred immanence in the city of Venice in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and considered how these ideas manifested urban devotional life. Drawing upon a range of archival, printed, and material evidence, this project addressed two main questions: what aspects of Catholic religious life in Venice were transformed by contemporary emphasis on the immanence of the sacred? And who was responsible for shaping and directing these changes? In asking these questions, my project contributes to scholarship seeking to understand how Catholicism was reimagined and experienced in this period of profound religious change. This project took an interdisciplinary approach to the study of early modern Catholicism drawing especially upon major frameworks of the sociology of religion in its conceptual framing.

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

Teaching and mentoring 

  • 2022–23 –  Seminar Tutor: Exploring History (HIST1000)
  • 2021–22 –  History Dissertation (supervision): The Cultural History of Venice, 1507-1797 (HIST3382) 
  • 2021–22 – Seminar Tutor: The Cultural History of Venice, 1507–1797 (HIST3382)
  • 2021–22 – Seminar Tutor: Faith, Knowledge, and Power: 1500–1750 (HIST1060)
  • 2020–21 – Seminar Tutor: Faith, Knowledge, and Power: 1500–1750 (HIST1060)
  • 2019–20 –  Dissertation Mentor (supported BA History students completing third-year dissertation projects) 


Funding 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) 

Recent Seminar and Conference Papers 

  • 2023 – ‘The Materiality of the Eucharist in Venetian Parish Churches, c. 1545-1690’, Cambridge Workshop for the Early Modern Period (University of Cambridge)
  • 2023 – ‘Miracles, Community, and Shrine Formation in Early Modern Italy: The Case of the Madonna of Lendinara, 1576-1584’, St Andrews Early Modern Workshop (University of St Andrews)
  • 2023 – ‘Between Rome and the Serenissima: Holy Sacrament Confraternities and Religious Reform in Venice c. 1545-1690’, Historia Interrupta? Failed Continuities, Successful Revolutions and Moments   when Everything did or did not Change conference (Institute of Historical Research, London)
  • 2023 – ‘The Power of Prayer in Post-Tridentine Miracle Collections’. The World of Printed Prayers Conference (University of Galway)
  • 2022 – ‘Devotional Spaces and the Stories They Tell Us’. Revival: Back to Life National Lottery-Funded Workshop (Hull Minster)
  • 2022 – ‘Affective Devotion in Early Modern Italy: The Shrine of the Madonna of Lendinara, 1576–1584’. Cambridge Workshop for the Early Modern Period (University of Cambridge) 
  • 2022 – ‘New Life for Old Bones: Sanctity and Urban Religious Life in Early Modern Venice’. Historical Perspectives Seminar: Renewal and New Beginnings (University of Glasgow) 
  • 2022 – ‘This Sanctified City: Saints and Hagiography in Venice during the Counter-Reformation, c. 1550-1690’. Northern Early Modern Network Annual Conference (Newcastle University)
  • 2021 – ‘Miracles, Emotions, and Space: Shaping Lay Devotion in Counter-Reformation Catholicism’. Oxford History of Emotions Seminar (University of Oxford) 
  • 2021 – ‘Books and Beliefs in Venice, 1550–1650’. Reformation Studies Colloquium (University of Birmingham)
  • 2021 – ‘Shrines and Shrine Books in Counter-Reformation Venice’. The Venetian Seminar (University of Leeds) 

Academic Activities 

  • 2022 – Co-convener of the AHRC-funded interdisciplinary conference ‘Space, Stuff and Sacrality: Everyday Engagements with Religion in Society’. University of Leeds, 16–17 June 2022
  • 2020-23 – Founder and Coordinator of the ‘Religion and Society’ interdisciplinary reading group
  • 2019 – 2020 – Convener of the WRoCAH ‘The Everyday in the Early Modern’ reading group 


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