Shepherds in the Dark:
Bishops and the Creation of Catholic Knowledge in Early Modern Italy
My book-in-progress, Shepherds in the Dark: Bishops and the Creation of Catholic Knowledge in Early Modern Italy, explores the culture and administrative work carried out in bishops’ households during the Counter-Reformation in Italy. In the wake of the Reformation and the Council of Trent, what a bishop was supposed to accomplish looked very different. Episcopacy was an ancient institution that had to be reimagined for this radically changed present. This book focuses on the practices bishops and their employees used to produce knowledge and manage information in their dioceses. From lowly chaplain to noble abbess, the conceptualization and work of episcopacy required many hands. Bringing together material culture, history of the book, intellectual history, hundreds of unpublished letters and painstaking archival work with documents like synodal and visitation records, my book shows how this key segment of the Catholic hierarchy reinvented themselves and their administration in a period when their role was deeply contested. In doing so, it offers a new picture of the early modern Catholic Church in Italy, with global ramifications.
The Libraries of Elizabethan Bishops
I have ongoing work on the libraries of Matthew Parker, Edmund Geste, John Jewel, Edmund Grindal, and others. I am interested in their methods of collecting printed books and manuscripts, and the ways in which they used their books for various political, historical, and confessional ends. Some of this work has already been published in the form of scholarly articles.