Katherine Tycz

Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities

20182019 Forum on Stuff

Katherine Tycz

Italian Studies

University of Cambridge, 2017

Katherine Tycz studies early modern Italian devotion and material culture, with a focus on material text. She completed a Ph.D. in Italian at the University of Cambridge where she was a member of the European Research Council-funded project, Domestic Devotions: The Place of Piety in the Italian Renaissance Home, 1400-1600. Katherine helped curate the 2017 exhibition Madonnas & Miracles: The Holy Home in Renaissance Italy and contributed to the 2015 exhibition Treasured Possessions from the Renaissance to Enlightenment, both at the Fitzwilliam Museum. She co-convened the Things seminar series at the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities in Cambridge. Katherine was a Kress Interpretive Fellow at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art from 2016-2017 and was most recently an affiliated lecturer at the Rhode Island School of Design. At Penn, she will be preparing peer-reviewed articles, a book proposal, and a catalogue raisonné of printed prayers.

Printed Prayers: Creation, Consumption and Use of Single-Sheet Prayers and Printed-Prayer Pamphlets in Early Modern Italy, c. 1460-1660

The proposed project will investigate printed prayers as some of the “stuff” consumed by devotees in early modern Italy (c. 1460-1660). It will analyze single-sheet and short printed prayer pamphlets as both texts and material objects that reveal important information about how devotees engaged with cheap devotional print in their daily lives. The project’s prime focus will be on rubricated prayers—prayers that directly address the reader. These rubrics instruct how the prayer should be read and used in devotional activity to procure the prayer’s most important spiritual and earthly benefits. The rubrics recommend engagement with the material text, such as carrying the printed prayers on one’s body, thus suggesting that early modern Italians viewed these prayers as devotional tools rather than merely as text conveying information. Although only a limited number survive, extant copies demonstrate the variety of these cheap ephemeral objects available to Renaissance consumers. The project will document and catalogue these prayers to better understand how they were produced and circulated in early modern Italy. It will consider the transmission of texts, the printed prayers’ association with pilgrimage sites, and will analyze the material and visual properties of these printed prayers, including the images that accompany the texts. The results of this post-doctoral project will include a peer-reviewed article and a comprehensive database, providing the basis for future monograph-length studies.