By Nigel Thrift, Vice-Chancellor
Warwick has been intimately connected with Venice for almost as long as it has existed as a university. It was in 1967 that Sir John Hale, Founding Professor of History, brought out the first Warwick students to spend the autumn term in Venice, living and studying in that remarkable city, taught by Warwick staff in the Palazzo Brandolini. Thus began the Venice Term. Later, historians were joined by art historians, undergraduates by postgraduates, in a programme now firmly embedded in the Warwick curriculum and taught in our permanent base in Venice, the Palazzo Pesaro Papafava.
Amongst UK universities, Warwick’s Venice Term is unique. It allows our students to study in situ – to see the Renaissance come alive in the buildings and artworks of Venice and the Veneto, to experience day-today life in a different culture, using a different language. This has been a hugely important experience for, by now, several generations of Warwick students. None of this would have been possible without constant help and encouragement from Venice itself: from the city’s public institutions; from academic colleagues at Venice’s distinguished University, Ca’Foscari; from those who ensured that Venice’s magnificent libraries were open to our students; from the many people who, over the years, have helped us find teaching accommodation and who have generously welcomed Warwick students into their homes and allowed us briefly to share their lives.
In return, we hope that Warwick has been able to contribute something to Venice. We are proud to be associated with the splendid work being done by Venice in Peril, whose Co-President, Lady Frances Clarke, is an honorary graduate of the University and a member of our Venice Advisory Board. We are delighted to welcome Ca’Foscari students to our lectures at the Palazzo. We were honoured, in December 2010, to be awarded the Venice Prize for Cultural Communication. Above all, we have made an important contribution to the scholarship of the Renaissance – in art history, history, cultural studies, drama, literature. Warwick now has an international reputation for excellence in Renaissance Studies and its acknowledged leadership in this area is due, in no small measure, to our long association with Venice. Over the last five years, this position has been reinforced by our year-round occupation of the Palazzo Pesaro Papafava, which is rapidly becoming a centre for international conferences and symposia that frequently, though by no means exclusively, address subjects connected with the Renaissance.
This book of essays celebrates Warwick in Venice. We asked a whole range of Warwick people – academics, administrators, students past and present and distinguished friends – to write about Venice, whether as a reflection of their own academic interests, or in the form of personal musings upon the city itself. The result is this Venetian Miscellany. I hope you will enjoy reading it.
Nigel dot Thrift at warwick dot ac dot uk