European Studies — History — Special Programs
Katrina  Olds

Katrina Olds

Associate Professor, History

Katrina Olds is a specialist in early modern Spanish history. Her research interests include Counter-Reformation visions of history and hagiography, the history of the book, and religious and intellectual exchange in Spain and the Americas.
She is currently working on a book-length study of the 'false chronicles,' a set of forged historical texts that a Spanish Jesuit named Jerónimo Román de la Higuera claimed to have discovered at the end of the sixteenth century. Provisionally entitled "Forging the Past: Invented Histories in Counter-Reformation Spain," the book is a comprehensive study of the chronicles and their pervasive influence on Spanish history, religion, and culture. It examines the intellectual context in which Higuera was working, and the vision of sacred history that he advocated, both in the forgeries, and in the histories he wrote under his own name. The monograph also details the ways in which the chronicles insinuated themselves into manifold visions of the past, from high intellectual culture to local popular religion, throughout Spain and beyond, for the better part of three centuries, into the modern era.
Prof. Olds is also researching the theological and historical complexities involved in authenticating relics in the Counter Reformation. She has recently completed an article on the relics of Arjona, which were discovered in this landlocked Andalusian town in 1628. The study details the difficulties that the bishop of Jaén confronted in his attempt to verify the authenticity of the relics, which were believed to belong to first-century martyrs. It suggests that the ambiguities attending to the holy were not only limited to peripheral dioceses like Jaén, but in fact, reached the very heart of Roman Catholicism in the century following the Council of Trent.
Prof. Olds received her Ph.D. and M.A. in history from Princeton University in 2009 and 2002, respectively. She also earned a Masters of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School in 1998. As an undergraduate at Macalester College, she concentrated in Religious Studies and Spanish.

Courses Offered
  • Early Modern Europe (HIST 318)
  • European Civilization (HIST 110)
  • European Expansion (HIST 317)
  • Freshman Seminar: Reacting to the Past – Turning Points in European History (HIST 195)
  • Honors Seminar – Renaissance Culture in Europe (HON 322)
  • The Inquisition: Myths and Reality (SII 340-04)
  • Muslims, Christians, and Jews in Medieval Spain (HIST 319)
  • The Reformation (HIST 316)
  • Senior Seminar – Myths and Forgeries in European History (HIST 410)
  • The Supernatural and Society in Pre-Modern Europe (SII 340)
  • Western Heritage (SII 250)
Publications
Forging History: Rewriting the Past in Counter-Reformation Spain - book manuscript in preparation

"The Ambiguities of the Holy: Authenticating Relics in Seventeenth-Century Spain." Renaissance Quarterly 65, no. 1 (2012) (accepted for publication; forthcoming)

"Visions of the Holy in Counter-Reformation Spain: The Discovery and Creation of Relics in Arjona, c.1628." In The 'Vision Thing': Studying Divine Intervention, Collegium Budapest Workshop Series, No. 18, edited by William A. Christian Jr. and Gábor Klaniczay. Budapest: Collegium Budapest Institute for Advanced Study, 2009.
"How to Be a Counter-Reformation Bishop: Cardinal Baltasar de Moscoso y Sandoval in the Diocese of Jaén, 1618-1646." In Entre el cielo y la tierra. Las élites eclesiásticas en la Europa Moderna, special monograph volume of Mágina: Revista Universitaria, vol. 13, edited by María Amparo López Arandia (University of Córdoba, Spain). Jaén: Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia ' Andrés de Valdelvira,' (2009): 197-213.