BA (York), MPhil and PhD (Warburg Institute), FRHistS
Simon Ditchfield is a Reader in the History Department. His research interests all relate to perceptions and uses of the past in previous societies, but particularly within the context of urban and religious culture in the Italian peninsula from c. 1300-1800.
Simon is currently writing a major survey volume about the making of Roman Catholicism as a world religion (1500-1700) for the Oxford History of the Christian Church series to be published by Oxford University Press. His other interests include: politics and procedures of canonization; hagiography; history writing; history of scholarship; conditions of enquiry in Early Modern Europe (particularly relating to humanism, magic and science); and the history of travel.
Simon is co-director of the AHRC project Conversion Narratives in Early Modern Europe. He is a member of the Accademia Ambrosiana, Milan. He is on the international editorial boards of 'Rivista di storia de Cristianesimo', 'Church History and Religious Culture', 'Cheiron' and 'Sanctorum: rivista dell'associazione per lo studio della santita, dei culti e dell'agiografia', and a co-series editor of Sacro/santo (published by Viella, Rome). He is also an advisory editor of the Catholic Historical Review (2009-12) and editor of the Journal of Early Modern History.
For the two-year period 2006-08 Simon was holder of a British Academy Research Leave fellowship. The projected outcome of this fellowship will be the volume Papacy and People: The Making of Roman Catholicism as a World Religion, 1500-1700 for the Oxford History of the Christian Church series (published by OUP). Central to the argument is the importance of understanding the reciprocal, dynamic nature of the relationship between Rome and its local churches; from Milan to Manila; Palermo to Paraguay. This entails a significant modification of such interpretative paradigms as 'confessionalisation' and categories such as 'social discipline', which need to be nuanced by reference to the capacity of peoples in both the New and Old worlds to appropriate Roman Catholicism as their own. Just as the papacy was not the only active agent, neither were the people merely subaltern, passive consumers. Drawing, in particular, on the history of liturgy and of the cult of saints, the study aims to furnish us with the means whereby we can better understand the protean forms taken by Roman Catholicism in the process of making itself this planet's first world religion.
Simon Ditchfield welcomes enquiries from those interested in doing research on any aspect of the religion and cultural history of early-modern Italy, particularly Rome.
Since 2004 his co-supervised research students completed doctorates on:
He is currently (co)-supervising the following PhD projects: