I am a historian of early modern Europe, specifically of north Italy in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. As a social historian, I am concerned with the ways that communities of ordinary Italians managed their day-to-day conflicts and crises, and adapted to new forms of governance and power that emerged with the consolidation of ducal states in the region. In my current research I focus on homicide and everyday violence in the city and province of Bologna, where a resurgent papacy established a northern capital in the early sixteenth century. Bologna provides a fascinating case study in how local populations reacted to the imposition of “absolute” rule, as the city’s elite and ordinary people rejected, negotiated or embraced centralized justice and government by papal legates. Looking at homicide trials across the seventeenth century allows me to document a sharp rise in violence among local nobility as a reaction to the increased pressures of papal rule, a process explored in a forthcoming manuscript.
I employ Historical GIS (Geographic Information Systems) to trace the geospatial patterns of violence in and around Bologna, and to track the social and economic makeup of the population of Florence in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. My SSHRC-funded research tool, DECIMA: The Digitally Encoded Census Information and Mapping Archive, allows historians of all levels to analyze who lived where, where they worked, and what kinds of rent they paid (among other things) according to three fiscal censuses mapped onto a beautiful contemporary rendering of ducal Florence.
Digital methods – databases and GIS, primarily – allow me to analyze and visualize large swaths of data that are otherwise very difficult to bring into a coherent shape. I firmly believe in the importance of collaborative digital research as a pathway to effective historical scholarship, and my research and teaching reflect that.
My articles have appeared in Crime, History and Societies, Krypton, and the Journal of Early Modern Cultural Studies. Forthcoming work includes an article in the Italian journal Documenta and a chapter in Justice and Violence: Bologna, 1250-1700, edited by Sarah Blanshei (Lexington, 2018). I am the co-editor, with Nicholas Terpstra, of Mapping Space, Sense and Movement in Florence: Historical GIS and the Early Modern City (Routledge, 2016) for which I also authored or co-authored three chapters.
I will consider the applications of students interested in working on a variety of topics in late medieval and early modern Europe at the Masters’ level, with a focus on intensive archival research and digital methods of analysis and presentation. My graduate supervision will prepare students for doctoral study employing digital methods at top universities in Canada and the United States, or for employment in a variety of fields that depend upon the skills gained during a humanities education.
I teach broadly in the History Department and have previously taught courses on the history of communications, the cultural history of Europe, and methods and styles of history inside and outside the academy. In 2017-2018, I am reprising a course on the Culture of Warfare in Early Modern Europe, teaching a senior seminar on the Social History of the Renaissance, introducing a Digital History survey class, and creating a course on Histories of Crime and Violence.
As a history teacher, I aim to equip students with the methods and mindset of effective historical analysis while introducing them to a range of digital and traditional tools that will allow them to communicate their analyses in academic and public historical settings. My students learn what life looks like as a professional historian, but also how they can transport the skills they have gained through a history education to a wide variety of post-University pathways.