This sections showcases PhD projects in the field.
PhD Projects in Medieval Studies
Unveiling Sexual Identities in Renaissance Italy
(Supervised by: Prof. Dr Peter Hoppenbrouwers and Dr Susanna de Beer)
What is the central aim of your research project?
My project is a history of mentalities which focuses on perceptions of sexuality in Italy between c. 1450 and 1550. Research questions include to what extent it is possible to speak of ‘sexual identity’ in this period, and what kind of restrictions regarding sexual desire and sex acts were shared. An important part of my research consists of a reconstruction of the (diverse and sometimes contradictory) codes of conduct for people of different ages, genders, and social classes, as well an analysis of the motives and rationalizations behind these codes.
What do you like most about doing research?
I really enjoy having the opportunity to study a great variety of sources, ranging from anatomical treatises to sermons, and from chivalric romance to personal correspondence. It is fascinating to see how these sources interact with each other, and discover their similarities and differences. Another thing I really love about doing research is sharing and discussing the results with a broader audience, either through interviews, public lectures, or blog posts.
What has been the biggest eye-opener in your research so far?
At the start of my research, guided by the traditional canon, I was still unaware of the number (and great variety) of sources written by female authors. These texts have proven to be of particular value. Another important realization while doing this project was the recognition that many beliefs that seem diametrically opposed could easily coexist within a society, a textual community, or even within the minds of individuals. A homosexual preference could, for instance, be described as an acquired lifestyle, while simultaneously being presented as an innate inclination.