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
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.