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Dr Hester Schadee

Senior Lecturer in European History, 1450 - 1750

2071

01392 722071

I am interested in the uses and abuses of the past, including classical reception and the history of scholarship. Chronologically, my research focus is on the renaissance (or the later middle ages, or the earlier early modern period). These strands come together in fourteenth- and fifteenth-century Italian humanism, which is the subject of most of my publications.
I teach and supervise more broadly, on topics related to Italy, the visual arts, social memory, and the cultural history of ideas.

I recently (september-december 2020) held a Senior Balsdon Fellowship at the British School at Rome, for a project entitled 'Roman relics and Renaissance Collectors 1350-1500'. It considers the questions of when, why and how discarded remains of the classical past became coveted collectibles. You can watch my public lecture on the topic here.
At the BSR I worked with the artist Paul Eastwood to curate a pop-up exhibition, Memento Monumenta, inspired by my research themes. Galleria Matèria, Rome, recorded a podcast on the project in their Pillow Talk series.

I am involved in two collaborative projects to unlock humanist literature for a wider audience. One is an edition and translation of writings by Poggio Bracciolini and friends On Leaders and Tyrants, in press in the I Tatti Renaissance Library (Harvard University Press), with Keith Sidwell and David Rundle. The other, Laments for Dead Friends, with Jeroen De Keyser, is an edition, translation and commentary on Poggio's six funerary orations, now close to completion.  

Recent publications include my co-edited volume Evil Lords: Theories and Representations of Tyranny from Antiquity to the Renaissance (Oxford University Press, 2018), which traces the various roots, developments and communalities of Western thought on Bad Rule in eleven chapters; and my open-access article ‘A Tale of Two Languages: Latin, the Vernacular, and Leonardo Bruni’s Civic Humanism’, Humanistica Lovaniensia 57, 1 (2018), which analyses the political dimension of humanism's cultivation of the Latin language, while offering a key to the vexed interpretation of Bruni's willfully contradictory Dialogues for Pier Paolo Vergerio

Research interests

I am interested in the uses and abuses of the past, including classical reception and the history of scholarship; chronologically, my focus is on the renaissance. Most of my publications pertain to fourteenth- and fifteenth-century Italian humanism: I have published on humanist political thought, history, and literature; recently I have started to think about medical history and notions of the body in relation to the humanist educational programme.

I welcome purely philological work, including the fundamentals of textual criticism, translation and commentary. I like to see this as a service to the profession and, ideally, a way to reach an audience beyond Latin-reading specialists. Furthermore, it is the closest one can get to the scholarly practice of the humanists we study. See the two ongoing projects under 'Research Collaborations'

Recently (september-december 2020) I held a Senior Balsdon Fellowship at the British School at Rome, for a project entitled 'Roman relics and Renaissance Collectors 1350-1500'. It considers the questions of when, why and how discarded remains of the classical past became coveted collectibles. This change in taste may be read as proxy for the transition from 'Middle Ages' to 'Renaissace', but it is tied as much to the social fabric of municipal and papal Rome as it is to aesthetics.
This research forms part of a larger set of materials I am collecting under the header Cult of Antiquity: How Christian Habits Shaped Humanism. The aim is to familiarise and defamiliarise humanist behaviours by locating them in the habitual context of contemporary Christian culture. For the purposes of the project, Christianity is not primarily approached as a theology, nor as a corpus of literary and historical narratives. Rather, it is treated as a world view that promotes certain epistemological and ontological possibilities, which are expressed through cultic, social, and intellectual practices, both private and communal. The research question is if and how Christianity-as-a-habit-of-mind was germane to - and provides a key to understanding - the nascent humanism of Italy in the Late Middle Ages and Early Renaissance.

My supervision areas include:

  • Political thought from antiquity to the modern world
  • Renaissance art and literature
  • History of Medicine in the middle Ages and early modern period
  • Neo-Latin

Research collaborations

I am currently involved in two collaborative projects to unlock humanist literature for a scholarly and a wider audience.

The first is an edition and translation of writings by Poggio Bracciolini and friends On Leaders and Tyrants, in press in the I Tatti Renaissance Library (Harvard UP), with Keith Sidwell and David Rundle. In line with the I Tatti brief, the focus is on making humanistic texts accessible to modern readers in accurate contemporary English translations. None of the texts in this volume has previously been translated into English, though some are partially available in Italian. While modern editions of the Latin are available, in light of their shortcomings, and the interest of consistency, we have chosen to offer our own editions. There is a sizeable introduction; annotations are kept brief.

The second project, Laments for Dead Friends, with Jeroen De Keyser, is an edition, translation and commentary on Poggio's six funerary orations, now close to completion. These six texts by an important humanist had not been edited since the eighteenth century, nor translated into any language. The aim of this publication is to offer a definitive edition based on a full census of all manuscripts, as well as a throrough historical and literary commentary. The English translation, printed on facing pages, can be read on its own, but is close enough to the Latin to serve as reading crib. 

In 2018, my co-edited volume Evil Lords: Theories and Representations of Tyranny from Antiquity to the Renaissance with Nikos Panou was published by Oxford University Press. This book traces the various roots, developments and communalities of Western thought on Bad Rule in eleven chapters written by specialists based in the US, UK, Italy, Germany, and France.

Teaching

At Exeter, I teach or have taught:

Level 1: 
-‘Renaissance Florence 1350-1550’ (HIH 1612).
-‘Understanding the Medieval and Early Modern Worlds’ (HIH 1410). 

Level 2: 
-‘Inventing Modern Man: Constructions of the Mind, Body and the Individual, 1400-1800’ (HIH 2137A).
-Doing History: Perspectives on Sources’ (HIH 2001)

Level 3:
Heroes: Conceptions, Constructions and Representations’ (HIH 3626). 
‘History Dissertation’ (HIH 3005).

MA (taught):
-'Gender, Culture and Society in Early Modern Europe' (HISM 036)
-'Critical Approaches to Early Modern History' (HISM001)
-‘Theory and Practice of History I and II’ (HISM 169 and HISM 170 [no longer running]). 

I have also given occasional lectures in 'Approaches to History’ (HIH 1401), 'Understanding the Medieval and Early Modern World' (HIH1410), and 'Uses of the Past’ (HIH 2002).

Biography

I have a BA in Ancient and Modern History, an M.Phil. in Greek and Roman History, and a D.Phil. in Modern History, all from Oxford. I held a Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts at Princeton University, and an Exzellenz Research Fellowship at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich. I started as a lecturer at Exeter in September 2014.