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HI985-30 Order and Disorder: Culture, Society and Religion in Early Modern Venice

Taught Postgraduate Level
Module leader
Rosa Salzberg
Credit value
Module duration
10 weeks
100% coursework
Study location
Warwick in Venice
Introductory description

This module gives students a unique opportunity to study the history of a great Mediterranean city while living in it. The module builds on and extends the Venice Programme whereby undergraduate students have been taught in Venice by the History Department since 1967. The Venice Programme has an international reputation and this module draws on the expertise of staff working in this area.

Module web page

Module aims

The module aims to provide an introduction to the methodological and theoretical issues involved in researching and writing on Renaissance and early modern social, cultural, and religious history, with a specific focus on Venice between c. 1450 and c. 1600. The module addresses a variety of themes of central importance to the study of early modern history and introduces students to current trends in approach and topic in this field. A particular theme of the course is how this period in Venetian history was characterised by currents of disorder and attempts to impose control, from both above and below, in the spheres of cultural, social, and religious life, and in the urban environment from the parish to the piazza. The module serves both to encourage students to think in theoretical terms about the ways in which the society and culture of an early modern European city such as Venice can be historically reconstructed and to expose them to the opportunities and problems presented by a variety of evidence. These sources include letters, diaries, dialogues, poems, broadsheets, pamphlets, chronicles, histories, maps, engravings, woodcuts, architecture, paintings, sculpture, as well as legislation and court records. The module will use insights from neighbouring disciplines including anthropology, gender studies, history of art, law, literary criticism, sociology, and social theory.

Outline syllabus

This is an indicative module outline only to give an indication of the sort of topics that may be covered. Actual sessions held may differ.

  1. Introduction to Renaissance Venice
  2. Popular religion and Catholic Reform
  3. Social structure and gender
  4. Trade, industry and consumption
  5. Violence and popular culture
  6. Ethnic and religious minorities
  7. Print and communication
  8. Disease and public health
  9. Venice, war and public opinion
Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • Identify and evaluate the most frequently used sources (archival, literary, and visual) for the study of the social, cultural, and religious history of Venice.
  • Communicate ideas and findings about the social, cultural, and religious history of Venice in a comparative context, both orally and in writing, to peers and to tutors.
  • Engage in the analysis of a body of primary and secondary source material including relevant information technology.
  • Analyse and evaluate the contributions made by existing interdisciplinary scholarship on the social, cultural, and religious history of Venice.
  • Develop the ability to contextualise Venice as a subject of historical enquiry.
Indicative reading list
  • Chambers, David, and Brian Pullan (eds), Venice: A Documentary History 1450-1630 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2001)
  • Ferraro, Joanne M., Venice: History of the Floating City (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012)
  • Lane, F.C., Venice, a Maritime Republic (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1973)
  • Madden, Thomas F., Venice: A New History (Harmondsworth: Viking, 2012)
  • Nichols, Tom, Renaissance Art in Venice: From Tradition to Individualism (London: Laurence King, 2016)
  • Ruggiero, Guido, The Renaissance in Italy: A Social and Cultural History of the Rinascimento (Cambridge, 2014)
  • Sansovino, Francesco, Sansovino's Venice: a translation of Francesco Tatti da Sansovino's guidebook to Venice of 1561, ed. and trans. Vaughan Hart and Peter Hicks (London: Yale, 2017).
  • Buckley, Jonathan, The Rough Guide to Venice and the Veneto (London, 2016) [Available on Kindle]
  • Goy, Richard J., Venice: An Architectural Guide (London, 2010). [This book contains a lot of useful historical information].
  • Scibilia, Michela, Venezia (e laguna) low cost: Guida anticrisi alla città più bella del mondo (Milan: BUR, 2013)

View reading list on Talis Aspire

Subject specific skills

See learning outcomes.

Transferable skills

See learning outcomes.

Study time

Type Required
Seminars 9 sessions of 2 hours (6%)
Tutorials 2 sessions of 1 hour (1%)
Private study 280 hours (93%)
Total 300 hours
Private study description

PG taught History modules require students to undertake extensive independent research and reading to prepare for
seminars and assessments. As a rough guide, students will be expected to read and prepare to comment on four
substantial texts (articles or book chapters) for each seminar taking approximately 4 hours. Each assessment requires
independent research, reading around 10-15 texts and writing and presenting the outcomes of this preparation in an
essay, review, presentation or other related task.


No further costs have been identified for this module.

You must pass all assessment components to pass the module.

Assessment group A1
Weighting Study time
5000 Word Essay 100%
Feedback on assessment

Written comments and face to face feedback.


This module is Core for:

  • Year 1 of TRSA-V1PF Postgraduate Taught Culture of the European Renaissance

This module is Core optional for:

  • Year 1 of TRSA-V1PF Postgraduate Taught Culture of the European Renaissance

This module is Option list A for:

  • Year 1 of THAA-V4P2 Postgraduate Taught History of Art
  • Year 1 of THAA-V4PJ Postgraduate Taught History of Art and Visual Studies