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The Research Project

  • The aim of the Research Project is to shift your attention to primary sources and allow you to seriously engage with them, in preparation for more extensive research as in your final year dissertation.
  • The key question you are trying to answer with the project: How can we use this source (or these sources) to illuminate Renaissance History?
  • NB Sources need to have been produced in Italy in the period c. 1350-c.1650
  • As such you should choose a source first, not a theme, and that source should drive the content of the project. (In this sense, this is different from what you are asked to do in a normal research essay)
  • Choose a sizeable source(s) eg. a book, or a comparable quantity of written/visual sources (but be realistic: you need to be able to get to know your source/s well in the time available)
  • NB You should not choose one of the key sources which we will discuss in the seminars.
  • NB By the Friday of Week 6 you should let me know by email which source you have chosen.
  • Having chosen the source, read or examine it carefully, BEFORE you do too much secondary reading. Go back and read/examine it again after you have read more about its context.
  • Your close examination of the source should help you determine which issues you think are most important to focus on in the project; which aspects of Italian Renaissance life it tells us most about.
  • The Project should include discussion of: what kind of source is it? Its form, author, purpose, language, audience, context
  • In week 9 or 10 of this term you will give a short presentation (5 minutes) on your project and receive feedback from your tutor and seminar peers
  • Examples of topics could include:
    • selecting a play (such as The Deceived), analysing the nature of the play as a form of text, the relationship between text and performance, what we know about the context in which it was produced and the author's aims, what it tells us about contemporary issues and values (in this case, things like gender, marriage, sexuality, morality, class...)
    • selecting a series of legal documents (such as the trials published in Cohen and Cohen's Words and Deeds in Renaissance Rome though not the one studied in the seminar), analysing the nature of trial records of sources, the context in and purpose for which they were created, what they tell us about issues such as justice, honour, family...
    • selecting a group of images by a particular artist, or by different artists on a particular theme: why and how were they created? why did the artist choose that form? what role did patronage play in their creation? what do they tell us about social/religious/political values?