Katrina Olds Headshot

Katrina B. Olds

Professor, History

Department Chair
Full-Time Faculty


Katrina Olds is Professor and Chair of History at the University of San Francisco, where she teaches undergraduates a broad range of topics in history and the humanities. Her first monograph, Forging the Past: Invented Histories in Counter-Reformation Spain (Yale, 2015) analyzed the intellectual, cultural, and political effects of a sixteenth-century Spanish Jesuit’s forged historical texts, and was recognized by the American Catholic Historical Association with its John Gilmary Shea Prize. Her articles on neo-Latin forgeries; the unruly process of authenticating saints’ relics in the Counter Reformation; the eclectic methods of Spanish antiquaries; and relics, saints, and memory in Spain and the Americas have appeared in Renaissance Quarterly, Catholic Historical Review, and in various edited volumes. She is also co-editor (with Emily Michelson and Jan Machielsen) of the forthcoming Cambridge Companion to Counter-Reformation Saints and Sainthood. Her current research projects include "The Blasphemous Enlightenment: A Picaresque History of Ideas in the Eighteenth-Century Spanish Atlantic" and "Irreverent Reverence: Laughter and the Sacred in Early Modern Spain."

Prof. Olds is always happy to engage with students about their academic and intellectual preoccupations; strange histories in the past and present; and grad school, a/k/a, "What should I do with my life?"  In addition to the range of classes that she teaches for the history department on pre-modern Europe, Prof. Olds enjoys offering interdisciplinary courses in the humanities for the Saint Ignatius Institute and the Honors College.

Research Areas

  • The inquisition in Spain and the Americas
  • Early modern Catholicism and counter-reformation
  • History of religious belief and skepticism


  • Chair, Core Advisory Subcommittee for History and Literature, 2023-Present

  • Deans Medal Selection Committee, 2023

  • Academic Advisor for USF Study Abroad at Oxford (Blackfriars College and Middlebury Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies Programs), 2019-23 

  • Director, Saint Ignatius Institute, 2019-22 

  • Member, University and College of Arts and Sciences Tenure and Promotion Peer Review Committees, 2018-20


  • PhD and MA, History, Princeton University
  • Masters of Theological Studies, Harvard Divinity School

Awards & Distinctions

  • USF and Faculty Union (USFFA) Distinguished Research Award, 2017
  • USF Dean’s Scholar Award (for research of great value/impact), 2015
  • John Gilmary Shea Prize for Best Book of the Year on Catholic History, American Catholic Historical Association, 2016
  • Honorable Mention, Best First Book of 2013-15, Association of Spanish and Portuguese Historical Studies

Selected Publications

  • Editor, with Emily Michelson and Jan Machielsen, Cambridge Companion to Counter-Reformation Saints and Sainthood, Cambridge University Press – expected 2024

  • "The Material of Memory in the Seventeenth-Century Andes: The Cross of Carabuco and Local History" in Remembering the Reformation, Brian Cummings, Ceri Law, Bronwyn Wallace, and Alexandra Walsham eds., Routledge, 2020

  • "Local Antiquaries and the Expansive Sense of the Past: A Case Study from Counter-Reformation Spain" in Local Antiquities, Local Identities: Art, Literature, and Antiquarianism in Early Modern Europe, Kathleen Christian and Bianca Divitiis, eds., Manchester University Press, 2018

  • Forging the Past: Invented Histories in Counter-Reformation Spain (Yale University Press, 2015)
  • "The Ambiguities of the Holy: Authenticating Relics in Seventeenth-Century Spain." Renaissance Quarterly 65, no. 1 (2012): 135-184.