Joshua Bell

Department of History

Research student & Teaching assistant


Thesis title: The Reception of Dreams in Early Modern Italian Popular Culture.



Pre-1500 / 1500-1800

Thesis abstract:

I am exploring the importance of dreams and dreaming in Early Modern Italian popular culture. I aim to recognize how popular audiences interpreted their dreams, what their dreams meant, and how dreams contributed to everyday social and religious practices.

This study will investigate contradictory views of dreaming within the Catholic church, as well as focusing on the importance of gendered dream interpretation. The thesis will also explore the fascinating influence of Arabic and Islamic oneirocritic practices on Italian dream literature, exposing Western tensions of ‘otherness’.

Notable source materials range from literary prose, poetry, and philosophical manuscripts to diaries, handbooks, and judiciary records. A significant focus of my research encompasses Venice and the “ephemeral” print culture which thrived within the city. 

Other research interests:

  • Social, Cultural, and Religious history
  • Popular Culture
  • Dreaming/Sleep
  • 15th C. Humanism
  • Occultism/Magic
  • Prosecution/Censorship
  • Hermeneutics
  • PhD History, University of Sheffield, 2019 - present
  • MA Historical Research, University of Sheffield, 2019
  • BA (Hons) History, University of Sheffield, 2018


PhD scholarship: AHRC White Rose College of Arts and Humanities

Teaching activities

University of Sheffield Teaching Assistant 2020-21 academic year: 

  • HST115 The 'Disenchantment' of Early Modern Europe, c. 1570-1770