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. 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 development of my doctoral project on urban devotion and Catholic reform in early modern Venice. 

Research interests

My PhD project dealt with early modern Catholic reform, sacred materiality, and changing worldviews. My project examines shifting ideas about sacred immanence in the city of Venice in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and considers how these ideas manifested urban devotional life. Drawing upon a range of archival, printed, and material evidence, this project addresses 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.

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 

  • 2022–23 –  Seminar Tutor: Exploring History (HIST1000)
  • 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 Power of Prayer in Post-Tridentine Miracle Collections’. The World of Printed Prayers Conference (University of Galway)
  • 2022 – ‘Devotional Objects and the Stories They Tell Us’. Revival: Back to Life National Lottery-Funded Workshop (Hull Minster)
  • 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 

  • 2022 – Co-convener of the AHRC-funded 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 


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