The Centre for the Study of the Renaissance offered me the chance to find my specialist subject whilst becoming involved in a rich and diverse inter-disciplinary department. Both in Venice and at Warwick we were surrounded by staff and other post-graduate students from a range of academic backgrounds each with their own interests and special expertise. At the Centre I continued to study my specialisation in Italian Renaissance History alongside courses in Venetian Art History, Early Modern French literature, Elizabethan domestic tragedies and many other topics. As such when it came to my dissertation, I was able to apply a more varied set of skills to my chosen subject area so as to produce a coherent yet engaging body of work. Even though I stuck to my specialisation in Italian History, I felt my time at the centre encouraged me to experiment with new and exciting sources. In my case I chose to examine examples of Italian handbooks intended to provide medical advice to midwives and families, including a famous gynaecological treatise by the grandfather of the notorious Florentine preacher Girolamo Savonarola.
As for my time in Venice, I had already spent three months on this scheme as part of my undergraduate degree. Returning there for my Masters, however, allowed me to consolidate the experiences from my previous visit. I became highly attached to Venice (and its libraries of course), which became a very familiar home away from home. Very few degrees offer such a lifetime experience, where you can touch and live amongst the subject you are studying. Delving into Venice’s unique urban geography and profound archives gave me the chance not merely to read but also to experience my studies and I would certainly recommend it to anyone. This experience had such an effect on me that I am currently planning to work abroad in Italy teaching English as a foreign language. I have long been studying Italian and have a desire to fully consolidate my language skills, which partly inspired my plans to work in Italy. But it was the Venice term that confirmed my passion for the country. I have applied for a place on the British Council’s scheme to teach as an English Language Assistant and have recently completed a 168-hour TEFL course to help me towards this goal. This scheme lasts a year and my hope is to use this experience to find more permanent work as a full-time English Language Teacher.