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 the 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 and the Veneto experienced religious change. Drawing upon a range of sources, including inquisitorial trials, confraternity records, material culture, and print, my project investigates the Venetian laity’s relationship with the sacred during the Catholic Reform. How did ordinary Counter-Reformation Catholics interact with sacred powers? How did the laity work to cultivate a climate of sacred immanence in their daily spiritual lives? In asking these questions, my project contributes to the social history of the Counter-Reformation 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). 

Teaching and Mentoring 

  • 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)
  • 2019-2020 – Dissertation Mentor (supported BA History students completing third-year dissertation projects) 


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) 

Recent Seminar and Conference Papers 

  • 2022 – ‘Affective Devotion and the Miraculous 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 – ‘Miracles, 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 

  • 2020–Present – Founder and Coordinator of the ‘Religion and Society’ interdisciplinary reading group (Please email for details) 


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