Current Research

My current research project, Sin in the Serenissima, explores the policing of sexual sin and crime in 16th-18th century Venice by both secular and ecclesiastical authorities. Venice had an unusual level of control over the sexuality of its residents, which could be policed by several courts with overlapping jurisdiction: the patriarch’s tribunal, the Inquisition (1547-1797), the Lords of the Night, the Executors against Blasphemy (1537-1797), and other criminal courts. Although the Inquisition and patriarchal courts were ecclesiastical bodies, the Venetian government controlled who held the seats of power in all four institutions and thus possessed extensive influence over the behavior of her residents. The remaining courts were arms of the Venetian government, charged by the Council of Ten with helping to maintain state security. I plan to examine these courts comparatively, to understand how and why the state attempted to control within communities, and how it both competed and cooperated with the Church in policing the sexual behaviors of early modern Venetians. I argue that this was a particular concern as Venice attempted to maintain its mythical image as the most serene city, the Serenissima, at the moment when its power on the world stage was waning. In addition to scholarly publications, I am developing digital maps and an app exploring the geography of sin and immorality. This research is currently being funded by the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation.