Saint Louis University Menu Search

Philip Gavitt, Ph.D.

Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies

Courses Taught

Graduate Seminar on Machiavelli and His World; Professionalization for History Graduate Students; Theory and Practice of History; Seminar in Catholic Church and Modern Science; Seminar in Medieval and Renaissance Medicine; Seminar in the History of Science and Medicine; Seminar in Catholic Reformation Graduate Reading; course on medieval Italian social and economic history; Graduate Reading course on Anthropology and History; Graduate Studies Medieval Survey; Graduate Studies Early Modern History; Graduate Seminar on Braudel and Early Modern Europe; Graduate seminar on History and Mediterranean Anthropology; Graduate seminar on Early Modern European History; Graduate seminar on the Spanish Inquisition; Advanced Studies Courses (Early Modern History); Graduate Seminar on Academies and Patronage; Western Civilization, 200 B.C.-1715; Western Civilization, 1715 to the present; Honors Western Civilization to 1715; Honors Western Civilization after 1715; Middle Ages to 1200; Renaissance Europe, 1304-1559; Early Modern Europe, 1492-1600; Age of Absolutism; Italy, 900-1860; Origins of the Modern World to 1500; Origins of the Modern World Since 1500; Origins of the Modern World to 1500 (Honors); Origins of the Modern World Since 1500 (Honors); Honors Crossroads Course in Medieval CIvilization; Senior Seminar, Renaissance Humanism; Senior Seminar, The World of Dante; Senior Seminar, Travel in the Middle Ages and Renaissance; Senior Seminar, Machiavelli; Senior Seminar, Renaissance Feminism; Senior Seminar, History of Medieval and Renaissance Medicine; Senior Seminar, History of Science and Medicine; Senior Seminar, Medieval and Renaissance Medicine


Ph.D., University of Michigan, 1988
B.A., University of Rochester, 1972

Practice Areas

  • Western civilization
  • Early Medieval
  • Late Medieval Social and Economic
  • Renaissance
  • Reformation
  • Tudor/Stuart
  • Early modern Europe
  • History and anthropology
  • History of medicine
  • History of science

Publications and Media Placements

Gender, Honor, and Charity in Late Renaissance Florence (Cambridge/New York: CambridgeUniversity Press, 2011, paperback edition 2013) (Reviewed in Renaissance Quarterly, Renaissance et Reforme, Bulletin of the History of Medicine,

Catholic Historical Review, Journal of Interdisciplinary History. American Historical Review, Sixteenth-Century Journal, Journal of Modern History)

Charity and Children in Renaissance Florence (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1990) (reviewed in English Historical Review, Bulletin of the History of Medicine, Renaissance Quarterly, History, Journal of Modern History, Italica, Sixteenth Century Journal, and the subject of a lengthy review article by Volker Hunnecke, “Findelkinder und Findelhäuser in der Renaissance,” in Quellen und Forschungen aus Italianischen Archiven und Bibliotheken 72 (1992): 123-153).

Edited Books 
Rebecca Messbarger, Christopher Johns, and Philip Gavitt, ed., Benedict XIV and the Enlightenment: Art, Science, and Spirituality (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2016)

Book Chapters 
"Catholic Reform, the Council of Trent, and the Transformation of Italian Charity, 1500-1800," in Charity in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic Traditions, ed. Julia Lieberman and Michal Jan Rozbicki, (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2017).

“Corporate Beneficence and Historical Narratives of Communal Well-being” in Renaissance Florence: A Social History, ed. Roger Crum and John Paoletti (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2006), pp. 138-160 (refereed)

"From putte to puttane: Female Foundlings and Charitable Institutions in Northern Italy, 1530-1630," in At the Margins: Minority Groups in Premodern Italy, ed. Stephen J. Milner (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2005), pp. 111-29 (refereed)

“An Experimental Culture: The Art of the Economy and the Economy of Art under Cosimo I and Francesco I” in Konrad Eisenbichler ed., The Cultural Politics of Duke Cosimo de’ Medici (Aldershot, Eng. and Burlington, Vt. 2001) pp. 205-223. (refereed)

"A Case of Sudden Infant Death in Late Medieval Florence: The Smothering Hypothesis Reconsidered," in C. J. Itnyre (ed.) Medieval Family Roles (New York: Garland, 1996), pp. 137-153. (refereed)

"Perche non avea chi lo governasse: Cultural Values, Family Resources and Abandonment in the Florence of Lorenzo de' Medici" in John Henderson and Richard Wall (eds.) Poor Women and Children in the European Past (London: Routledge, 1994), pp. 65-93 (refereed).

"Economy, Charity and Community in Florence, 1350-1450" in Thomas Riis (ed.), Aspects of Poverty in Early Modern Europe (Florence: Le Monnier, 1981), pp. 79-118 (refereed)

Journal Articles
“Marvin Becker (1922-2004)” Renaissance Studies 19.4 (September 2005): 541-543

"Charity and State-building in Early Modern Florence: Vincenzio Borghini as Administrator of the Ospedale degli Innocenti," The Journal of Modern History 69 (1997): 230-270 (refereed)

Encyclopedia Articles 
“Breastfeeding and Wet-nursing” in Women and Gender in Medieval Europe: an encyclopedia ed.

Margaret Schaus (New York and London : Routledge, 2006), 93-94 “Camaldoli” Medieval Italy: An Encyclopedia (New York and London: Routledge, 2004) 1:172-173

“Casentino” in Medieval Italy: An Encyclopedia (New York and London: Routledge, 2004) 1: 185-187

“Charitable Institutions” in Medieval Italy: An Encyclopedia (New York and London: Routledge, 2004) 1: 208-210

“Confraternities” in Medieval Italy: An Encyclopedia (New York and London: Routledge, 2004) 1:244-246

“Medieval and Renaissance Europe” in Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood in History and Society ed. Paula Fass (New York: Macmillan, 2004) 2: 589-593

Book Reviews
Review of Thomas Mayer, The Roman Inquisition on the Stage of Italy (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014) in Appositions 8 (August, 2016) on-line journal

Review of Constance Bouchard, Rewriting Saints and Ancestors: Memory and Forgetting om France, 500-1200 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press). Appositions 9 (August, 2015) online journal

Review of Nicholas Scott Baker, The Fruit of Liberty: Political Culture in the Florentine Renaissance, 1480-1550. American Historical Review 120.2 (2015) 731-732.

Review of Nicolas Terpstra, Cultures of Charity: Women, Politics and the Reform of Poor Relief in Renaissance Italy (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2013) Journal of Modern History 86.4 (2014): 942-944.

Review of Nicholas Terpstra, Lost Girls: Sex and Death in Renaissance Florence (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010) in American Historical Review 116.5 (December 2011): 1591-1592

Review of Sharon Strocchia, Nuns and Nunneries in Renaissance Florence (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009) in Speculum 86.4 (October, 2011): 1128-30

Review of David Gentilcore, Medical Charlatanism in Early Modern Italy, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006) in European History Quarterly 41 (January, 2011): 128-130

Review of Dale Kent, Friendship. Love, and Trust in Renaissance Florence. The Bernard Berenson Lectures on the Italian Renaissance (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000) in Speculum 85.3
(2010): 412-414.

Review of Marina Garbellotti. Le risorse dei poveri: Carità e tutela della salute nel principato
vescovile di Trento in età moderna (Bologna: Il Mulino, 2007) in Renaissance Quarterly, 62.2 (June 2009): 558-559

Review of Nicholas Terpstra, Abandoned Children of the Italian Renaissance: Orphan Care in Florence and Bologna The Johns Hopkins University Studies in History and Political Science 4. (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005) in Renaissance Quarterly 59.3 (Fall 2006): 849-851

Review of Dorothy Habel. The Urban Development of Rome in the Age of Alexander VII. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002) in Seventeenth-Century News 64 (2006): 45-48

Review of Thomas Max Safley, ed. The Reformation of Charity: The Secular and the Religious in Early Modern Poor Relief. Studies in Central European Histories 30. (Boston and Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers, 2003) in Renaissance Quarterly, 58.2 (Summer 2005): 633-635

Review of Leon Battista Alberti R. N. Watkins, ed., The Family in Renaissance Florence: Book Three, R. N. Watkins, ed (Prosepct Heights, Ill., 1994) in Sixteenth Century Journal 31 (2000): 1232-1234.

Review of Louis Haas, The Renaissance Man and His Children (New York, 1997) in Renaissance Quarterly 52.4 (1999): 984-986

Review of Robert Black, Studio e scuola in Arezzo durante il medioevo e il Rinascimento: I doucmenti d’archivio fino al 1530 (Arezzo, 1996) in Sixteenth-Century Journal 30.2 (1999): 482-84.

Review of Sandra Cavallo, Charity and Power in Early Modern Italy: Benefactors and their motives in Turin (Cambridge, 1995) in Sixteenth Century Journal 28 (1997): 196-98

Review of Franco Franceschi, Oltre il tumulto (Florence, 1992) Speculum 70 (1995): 616-18.

Review of Carol Bresnahan Menning, Charity and State in Late Renaissance Italy (Ithaca, 1993) in American Historical Review 100 (1995): 191-92.

Review of Samuel Kline Cohn, The Cult of Remembrance and the Black Death of 1348: The Experience of Six Italian Cities (Baltimore, 1992), in Speculum 69 (1995): 1140-42

Review of Enfance Abandonée et société en Europe: XIVe-XXe siècle, Collection de l'Ecole Francaise de Rome, 140 (Rome, 1991), The Journal of Modern History 68 (1994): 363-66

Review of Sherrill Cohen, The Evolution of Women's Asylums Since 1600 (Oxford, 1992) Sixteenth Century Journal 25 (1994), 463-65.

Review of Sharon Strocchia, Death and Ritual in Renaissance Florence (Baltimore, 1992) American Historical Review, 99 (1994): 262-63.

Review of Nancy Struever, Theory as Practice (Chicago, 1991), in Sixteenth Century Journal, 24 n.4 (1993), 969-971. 

Review of Chiara Frugoni, A Distant City (Chicago, 1990) in Manuscripta 37 (1993): 210-21

Review of Konrad Eisenbichler (ed.), Crossing the Boundaries: Christian Piety and the Arts in Italian Medieval and Renaissance Confraternities, (Kalamazoo, 1991) Italica 71 (1994): 231-33

“The Art of Medicine: Interview with Philip Gavitt”by Rebecca Messbarger, Washington University, St. Louis, published on December 1, 2015.

“This 15th-century orphanage in Florence is now a kid-friendly museum” by Vicky Hallett. Washington Post, September 29, 2016:

Works in Progress
Vincenzio Borghini (1515-1580): Languages of Art, History, and Reform in Renaissance Florence

Dominican Humanism, Religious Orders, and Catholic Reform in Early Modern Italy

Faith, Science, and Medicine in Europe, 1400-1800

Honors and Awards

  • Department of History Grant ($1,100) to undertake research at the Museo degli Innocenti, Florence, May 2017.
  • College of Arts and Sciences Mellon Grant ($2,493) to undertake research at the Museo degli, Innocenti, Florence, May 2017.
  • College of Arts and Sciences Mellon Grant ($1,233) to present a paper at the Renaissance Society of America Annual Meeting in Chicago, March 29-April 2, 2017
  • Department of History Travel Grant ($300) for research trip to Pierpont Morgan Library Rare Books and Manuscripts, March 2017.
  • College of Arts and Sciences Mellon Grant ($2,170) to present a paper, “Ritual, Memory, and the Body in the Décor Puellarum,” at Domestic Devotions in the Early Modern World Conference, St. Catharine’s College, Cambridge, July 2015).
  • College of Arts and Sciences Mellon Grant ($2,500) for partial sponsorship of “Vesalius and the Invention of the Early Modern Body” Conference, February 27-March 1, 2015
  • Department of History 1-8-1-8 Grant 2011 ($154 to conduct research at the Getty Institute in March 2012)
  • College of Arts and Sciences Mellon Grant 2011 ($1,776 to conduct research at the Getty Institute in March 2012)
  • College of Arts and Sciences Mellon Grant 2010 ($1,200 to present a paper at the Sixteenth-Century Studies Conference, Montreal, October 2010)
  • Department of History Professional Development Grant 2009 ($700 to chair a session at Renaissance Society of America Conference in Los Angeles, CA)
  • College of Arts and Sciences Mellon Grant, 2008
  • Gladys Krieble Delmas Award for research in Venice, 2005-2006
  • College of Arts and Sciences Faculty Mentoring Award Finalist Certificate, 2003
  • Saint Louis University Graduate School Summer Research Award, for research in Florence during the Summer of 2002
  • Saint Louis University College of Arts and Science Mellon Grant for Research in Florence, Summer 2002.
  • Saint Louis University College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Travel fund for participation at “Florence Reconsidered” conference, University of California, Santa Barbara, November 9-11, 2000.
  • NEH Summer Stipend for the Summer of 2000 for research in the Archivio di Stato, Florence, on “Memories of Florence: The Memorie Fiorentine of Francesco Settimani (1681-1763) and the Twilight of the Medici”
  • Andrew W. Mellon grant (Fall 1999) to present a paper at the Renaissance Society of America Florence 2000 conference, March 2000.
  • College of Arts and Sciences Travel Grant (Fall 1999) for presentation of a comment at the American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting in Boston
  • Andrew W. Mellon grant (Spring 1999) to fund presentation of a paper at the Renaissance Society of America annual conference in Los Angeles ($880)
  • Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Grants Summer, 1998 (also 1996), to fund research in the Vatican Film Library ($2,000)
  • College of Arts and Sciences Travel Grant, Summer 1998, to present a paper at the International Society for the Classical Tradition, Tübingen, Germany ($1,050)
  • Appointed to Advisory Committee, Assessorate for Community, Health, and Social Services, City of Florence, Italy, April 1997
  • Visiting Professor, Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies, Florence, Italy, Academic Year 1996-97
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Grant for University Teachers, 1995 (for Academic Year 1996-97 ($29,000)
  • Phi Beta Kappa, Saint Louis University, 1995
  • Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Grant, Summer, 1995, to fund research on "Inventing the
  • Renaissance: Vincenzo Borghini and Medici Patronage" ($3,000)
  • Saint Louis University Graduate School Research Award, Summer 1995 ($1,000)
  • Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Grant, Spring 1995 (on behalf of Saint Louis University Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies to fund 1995 Central Renaissance Conference--$3,000)
  • Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Summer Stipend, 1994, (to fund completion of manuscript--$2,000)
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Challenge Grant, 1993 (on behalf of Saint Louis University Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies--$300,000, successfully matched 4-1 by alumni and corporate contributions of $1,200,000)
  • Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Grant, Spring 1994 (on behalf of Saint Louis University Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies to fund 1994 Central Renaissance Conference--$3,000)
  • Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Research Grant, Summer 1993 ($3,000)
  • American Council of Learned Societies, Summer Grant-in-Aid, 1993 ($1,500)
  • Harvard University Center for Renaissance Studies (Villa I Tatti) Fellowship, 1990-91
  • Leopold Schepp Foundation Fellowship, 1990-91 ($20,000)
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend, 1990 ($3,000)
  • Society for Italian Historical Studies Prize for Best Unpublished Manuscript, 1988
  • University of Michigan Graduate School Grants, 1980 and 1978-79
  • University of Michigan Teaching Fellowships, 1979, 1976-77, 1975-76.
  • Fulbright Fellowship 1977-78
  • Renaissance Society of America, Summer 1976

Professional Organizations and Associations

  • Advisory Board, Assessorate of Health and Social Services, City of Florence, Italy,
  • St. Louis Regional Coordinator, The Historical Society
  • The Historical Society
  • The American Historical Association
  • The Renaissance Society of America
  • Sixteenth-Century Studies Conference
  • The Medieval Academy
  • Editorial Board of Manuscripta 1993- (current)
  • Co-Secretary, Regional Central Renaissance Conference 1996-1999
  • Executive Committee, Central Renaissance Conference, 1994-2000
  • Renaissance Society of America Constituent Society Representative 1992-1998
  • Newberry Library Consortium Executive Committee 1994-1998
  • Centers and Regional Associations of the Medieval Academy of America, 1992-1998