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  • Dr Jane Stevens Crawshaw

    Senior Lecturer in Early Modern European History

    School of History, Philosophy and Culture

    Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences


    Phone number: +44 (0)1865 483686

    Email: jane.stevens-crawshaw@brookes.ac.uk


    Jane Stevens Crawshaw is a Renaissance Italian historian with research interests in the relationships between people and the places they inhabit.  Her current project explores the impact of developing ideas about 'cleanliness' on the public health, urban and environmental policies of Venice and Genoa.  Before this, she developed a holistic and contextualised institutional study of plague hospitals, which were first established in fifteenth-century Venice.  


    Dr Stevens Crawshaw's teaching spans the early modern period (c.1450-1800) in Europe.  Her interest in the social and physical history of the period leads her to explore how ordinary people experienced a world of environmental change, epidemic diseases, religious wars and global exploration.


    Dr Stevens Crawshaw has supervised Masters Dissertations on early modern European social and architectural history and would welcome applications from students interested in early modern Italian social, medical and environmental history.

    The social and environmental history of early modern Italy.

    Research interests

    Dr Stevens Crawshaw has always been fascinated by the relationship between people and the places in which they live.  This underpins her love of travelling to cities and exploring their architecture.  These same things engage her in her work, sparking specific research interests in concepts of cleanliness and public health, the treatment (and locations) of marginal social groups and the relationship between urban space and the environment in early modern Europe, particularly Italy.

    Immediate research projects

    'Cleaning Up Renaissance Italy: environment, space and society in Venice and Genoa'.  This project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust Early Career Research Fellowship between 2012 and 2017, broadens our understanding of Renaissance public health.  It demonstrates the ways in which ideas about cleanliness and health were expressed in the social policies, religious language and cultural production of the period.  It also moves beyond the walls of Renaissance cities to trace the ways in which interventions in the environment were considered inseparable from urban public health measures.  A focus on the important ports of Venice and Genoa enables these ideas to be explored in the context of cities which were also the centres of territorial states.


    Journal articles

    Book chapters


    • Stevens Crawshaw J, Plague hospitals: public health for the city in early modern Venice , Ashgate Publishing (2012)
      ISBN: 9780754669586
      Abstract Website



    Conference papers given since 2001

    • April 2017 'Tears of Chios: tracing medical cultures in the early modern Eastern Mediterranean' at the conference entitled 'Medicine, Environment and Health in the Eastern Mediterranean World, 1400-1750', Christ's College, Cambridge
    • March 2017 'The State of the Environment: Public Health and Technology in Renaissance Genoa', Early Science and Medicine Seminar, University of Cambridge
    • February 2017 'Telling stories about the environment in early modern Italy', European History Seminar 1500-1800, Institute of Historical Research
    • February 2017 'Cleaning the streets: the changing place of prostitution and piety in Renaissance Genoa', Early Modern Catholicism Seminar, University of Oxford
    • March 2015 'Cleaning up Renaissance ports: technology and the environment in Venice and Genoa' European Architectural History Network panel on Renaissance technologies and the built environment, Renaissance Society of America conference, Berlin
    • September 2014 'Healthy water: environmental channels in Renaissance Genoa', Port City Lives Conference, Liverpool
    • August 2014 'The spaces and places of early modern quarantine', Quarantine: History, Heritage, Place Conference, Sydney
    • June 2014 'Protecting the Port in Renaissance Genoa', Practicing Public Health in Premodern Europe Workshop, Villa i Tatti, Florence
    • May 2014  'Cleaning Up Titian's Venice', lecture to accompany the exhibition 'Titian and the Golden Age of Venetian Painting', National Galleries of Scotland
    • March 2012 'From books to beaks: doctors' fight against the plague in early modern Italy', Edinburgh College of Physicians.
    • September 2011 'The Renaissance invention of Quarantine', Fifteenth century conference on 'Society in an age of plague', University of East Anglia, Norwich.
    • June 2011 'Cleansing the body and cleansing the soul: the Counter-Reformation Plague Hospital as a space of conversion', Conversion Narratives in the Early Modern World, University of York.
    • April 2011 Commentator for 'Trust, risk and globalisation between water and land' at ENIUGH Third European Congress on World and Global History, LSE London.
    • April 2011 'Corrupting the body and corrupting the soul in early modern Venice: the case of Mr and Mrs Plague Hospital', International Network for the History of Hospitals Conference, Lisbon and Evora.
    • March 2011 '"From a distance it looks like a castle": contagion, communities and confinement in early modern Venice', 'The disease within: confinement in Europe, 1400-1800', Oxford Brookes University.
    • July 2010 'Marketing state secrets in Venice during the plague' as part of co-organised (forthcoming) panel 'Marketing (in) the Renaissance city: Venice and beyond', Society for Renaissance Studies bi-annual conference, York.
    • April 2010 Panel Organiser 'Terraferma ties: tracing the early modern Venetian state' and speaker on 'State secrets: public health for the plague on the Venetian terraferma' at the Renaissance Society of America Annual Conference, Venice.
    • October 2009 'Plague hospitals, charity and cure in early modern Venice',City and hospital in the European West (13th-17th centuries) international symposium, Lleida.
    • April 2009 'Islands of isolation? The lazaretti of sixteenth-century Venice', International Network for the History of Hospitals conference, Barcelona.
    • March 2008 'Disease and defence on the terraferma after Cambrai', Venice and the League of Cambrai conference, St John's College, Oxford
    • September 2007 '"The blood through the veines of a man's body": epidemic disease and the environment in sixteenth-century Venice', European Association for the History of Medicine and Health Conference, London
    • July 2007 'What about the rats? Reconsidering plague in a sixteenth-century context', Varieties of Cultural History conference, Aberdeen
    • May 2007 'Islands and isolation in sixteenth-century Venice', Venetian seminar, Edinburgh

    Further information

    Jane Stevens Crawshaw delivered a public lecture at the National Galleries of Scotland in 2014 as part of the programme of events surrounding the 'Titian and the Golden Age of Venetian Painting' exhibition.

    She contributes blogs to the website of the Society for Renaissance Studies: www.rensoc.org.uk.

    She is happy to talk about her research for TV and radio.  In November 2015, she discussed the ways in which religions have interpreted epidemic disease in a Beyond Belief episode for BBC Radio 4 on Ebola and Plague.  In 2016, she was short-listed for the AHRC/BBC Radio 3 New Generation Thinkers scheme.

    Before coming to Oxford Brookes, Jane was the Rubinstein Postdoctoral Research Fellow for the Society for Renaissance Studies. Prior to this she was a Teaching Fellow in Early Modern History at the University of St Andrews (2007-8). She completed her MPhil (2003-4) and PhD (2004-8) at the University of Cambridge (Downing College) and her MA (1999-2003) at the University of Edinburgh.

    She has been the recipient of an early career scholarship from the Istituto Datini in Prato and an award for independent research from the Gladys Krieble Delmas foundation.  She was awarded a Small Research Grant from the British Academy in 2011 and held an Early Career Research Fellowship, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, from 2012-17.

    She is the Honorary Secretary of the Society for Renaissance Studies and sits on the Executive Board for the International Network for the History of Hospitals.  She co-organised, with Dr Irena Benyovsky Latin of the Croatian Institute of History in Zagreb, a conference for the INHH which was held in Dubrovnik, Croatia in April 2015.  She is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and of the Higher Education Academy.