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Finding POIs

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Hey everyone! Long time lurker, first time poster. I'm going into my junior year of undergrad with an Art History and Italian double major (yeah, I'm starting on this whole thing pretty early) and I'm starting to look at grad schools and POIs. I really want to try to go directly into a PhD, and, without going into specifics, I think I'm generally in a pretty okay place for that.

I'm almost positive that the area that I want to focus on is Medieval/Proto-Renaissance Italian art, and I'm having trouble finding POIs specifically in that area- do y'all think I should (eventually) look more into POIs that are Medievalists or Renaissance scholars? Most of the Medievalists I'm finding (unsurprisingly) focus on England, France, and Germany, but they're all within the timeframe I'm excited about. On the other hand, I feel like it's pretty common for Renaissance scholars to start around 1200, which I could also totally work with, even though that timeframe isn't really the main event for Renaissance people.

I know this is weirdly specific, and that my best bet is to probably contact POIs myself to see how well our interests line up, but since I'm starting this search so early, I don't want to jump the gun. Does anyone have any thoughts?

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It sounds like you should work with a medievalist. Of course there are overlaps with Renaissance (now, more than ever), but medieval art history remains a distinct field, with its own set of concerns and debates, and you want an advisor who is familiar with them. Moreover, I don't know too many Renaissance scholars who would say they "start around 1200." If you can't find a medievalist specializing in Italy--it's true that there probably aren't many--I would wager that many medievalists would be willing to supervise a dissertation in Italian art if you can articulate connections between their interests and concerns and yours. Of course, you will probably also work with the Italian Renaissance specialist in whatever dept you end up in, so he or she would be an important, if not the primary, resource for you. This is something you should also discuss in your personal statement. Now, there is a caveat, depending on what exactly you want to work on: there are several Renaissance specialists (like Alex Nagel) who are interested in the links between Medieval and Renaissance, and in questioning the boundary between them, so they might be interested in supervising your work. In any case it would be a good idea, as you say, to ask your POIs if they'd be willing to take you on (perhaps wait till spring, though). Be aware, though, that some will not respond to your inquiry--professors are busy people and sometimes they don't answer emails from prospective students--but don't make a judgement based on them on that. The most important thing now is to talk to your advisor and other professors. They will be able to help guide you in finding a suitable program.

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