Hi, my name is Kate, and I am a Bardoholic. Right now I am also in the middle of writing a PhD thesis on the reception of the Italian controversialist, Pietro Aretino, in Renaissance England. Not an obvious topic, I admit. I first stumbled on Aretino when I was studying for an MA in ‘Shakespeare Studies’ run by King’s College London and Shakespeare’s Globe. I was writing about the satirical personae of the Elizabethan writer, Thomas Nashe, erstwhile collaborator of Shakespeare’s and a professional writer who, like Aretino, navigating the seas of a growing print trade. Thomas Lodge had declared Nashe to be the ‘English Aretine’, while Nashe himself claimed that ‘of all styles I most affect and strive to imitate Aretine’s.’
Thinking to myself ‘I’d better find out who this Aretino bloke is’, I began on what I assumed would be a quick search of the internet, only to find tantalisingly little information. In any case, I wrote up my work on Nashe, and stored away my curiosity for Aretino for another day. Three years later, I am working on a joint doctorate, and have found myself back at Shakespeare’s Globe.
My PhD programme is unusual amongst other courses. I am part of a larger group of researchers from around the globe, each using intercultural and interdisciplinary approaches to investigate European connections, within and outside of the continent, between 1400-1700. The programme is called “Text and Event in Early Modern Europe” (or TEEME- which has led to an almost obligatory use of team-based puns) and is run jointly by the Universities of Kent, Porto, the Freie Universität of Berlin & Charles University in Prague. It is funded by Erasmus Mundus, and encourages students from all over the world to study within Europe. Our current group contains people from Egypt, Germany, India, Croatia, Brazil, Russia and Italy to name only half our number, the variety of which is set to grow with the new cohort joining us in September. (In comparison, I come from the much less exotic climes of Wales and Belgium.)
Over the three years of our course, we will be studying in at least two of these universities, drawing on the collective specialisation of the academics based there, learning new languages and skills, going on research trips to associated libraries and archives, and taking part in a work placement at one of the cultural institutions associated with the programme. Along with places such as the Casa da Música in Porto, the Staatsbibliothek in Berlin and the Karolinum Press in Prague, Shakespeare’s Globe is one such institution that is working with TEEME, in the hope that academics and cultural centres can learn from each other. (Shameless plug: if you want to find out more about the programme, please visit http://www.teemeurope.eu/ especially if you are interested in applying for the next round of applications for which generous scholarships are available).
For two days a week, I am joining the research team at the Globe under the direction of Dr Farah Karim-Cooper and her research assistant Lana Harper, who is about to embark on a PhD on the politics of theatrical space. Our work varies from day to day, but given that we are at the beginning of the performance season, much of our time is spent making research documents for the Globe actors and directors, attempting to answer any questions about the original performances and the historical period. The rest of the time, I continue to work on my own research into Aretino, Nashe, and a variety of other English writers and publishers who were seeing the potential for new forms of literary production that Aretino had begun to capitalise on.
Over the next few months, I will be blogging about the ins-and-outs of doing a PhD in the humanities, the matters that are arising as part of my own work, as well as those that are appearing while I work as part of the research team at the Globe. I look forward to finding out more about this fascinating period of history, and the writers and dramatists who reflected this world back to the public.
-Kate De Rycker