Benjamin Westervelt

Associate Professor of History

Miller Center 422, MSC: 41
Office Hours:

Spring 2024: Mondays 11:30-1, Tuesdays 8-9:30, 1-2, Fridays 8:30-9, and by appointment.


Medieval and Early Modern Europe

Academic Credentials

PhD 1993 Harvard University, M.T.S. 1985 Harvard Divinity School, BA 1982 Brandeis University


Spring 2024:

HIST 227: Medieval Europe, 800-1400

HIST 400: Reading Colloquium

RELS 229: The Reformations of the 16th Century


Like much of my teaching, my scholarship focuses on religion in European history. I began my research by looking at a very specific topic: the reform of preaching in Milan (Italy) in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. I spent a year (1989-1990) in Milan doing research in the archives and I have since been back to Italy several times. Out of this research came my doctoral dissertation and several articles. The dissertation and the articles have in common some related themes: the difference between theory and practice (in the case of preaching, how people say one should preach vs. how they preach); the conflict between the center and the periphery, town and country, leader and led; the different perceptions of elite and popular groups on contested subjects; and especially, the question of how institutions and their bureaucracies recognize the need to reform themselves and then respond to that need. Among other places, I have crystallized my thinking on these issues in an article entitled “Roman Catholicism” in the Oxford Encyclopedia of the Reformation. My next project will treat some of the same broad issues in an entirely different context: the pope’s suppression of the Jesuits in 1773.

Location: Miller Hall