I’ve just spent three days at the Society for Renaissance Studies Conference in Manchester, and very stimulating it was too. It was nice to meet some new people and hear about their work, and a few people I’ve spoken to have been interested in my work and offered to keep in touch. There were some interesting papers on execution ballads, psalm culture, the life of Carafa, Spanish Renaissance music and epitaphs, among many, many others.

Rubens – Justice

I found the art history plenary on ‘Gender and Genre in Renaissance Representations of Women’ by Bette Talvacchia of Connecticut University to be suprisingly stimulating, particularly as I know nothing about art – it’s really made me think that when I get a few minutes (oh wishful thinking if ever there was any) it’s something I’d be interested in learning about. She took issue with the received view that anonymous women in Renaissance art are usually courtesans, pointing out that portraits of unidentified men are classified as just that – unidentified men. It was absolutely fascinating.

Titian’s Isabella d’Este, Duchess of Mantua

When Titian painted this portrait of the Duchess of Mantua, Isabella d’Este, in 1536, apparently she hadn’t sat for a portrait in the flesh, so to speak, for twenty years because she didn’t want her image to age.

The conference was a brilliant experience. I’d never been to an academic conference before and although there was an element of wondering where I fit in, feeling out of my depth and wondering if I will ever know as much about my subject as other people seem to know about theirs, it’s left me buzzing and wondering what I’ve got that I could present a paper on, and where I could do it.

Melzi – Flora