Katherine McKenna


  • Visiting Assistant Professor, First-Year Seminar
  • Visiting Assistant Professor of History


  • BA, history and art history, Emory University, 2010
  • MA, history, Vanderbilt University, 2016
  • PhD, history, Vanderbilt University, 2019


Katherine McKenna is a historian of early modern Europe with a focus on Italy and gender. She works at the intersection of intellectual, cultural, and women’s history, and she is particularly fascinated by the mechanics of Renaissance feminism and the world of premodern women. Her first book project, Breaking Silence: Venetian Women and the Radicalization of the Querelle des Femmes in Late Renaissance Italy, is a history of how secular women authors from Venice and its empire forged a space for themselves on the vernacular book market and remade the Renaissance literary debate on women during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.

Katherine’s publications include the peer-reviewed article “Women in the Garden: The Decameron Reimagined in Moderata Fonte’s Il merito delle donne” (Early Modern Women, 2019). Forthcoming writings will appear with the Routledge Encyclopedia of the Renaissance and Lucrezia Marinella’s Works, Reassessed (Classiques Garnier). Katherine is also delighted to serve as editor of the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women and Gender’s blog, where she directs the digital history project Founding Mothers.

At Oberlin, Katherine is offering a freshman seminar on Renaissance feminism and courses on gender studies and the history of science.

Spring 2022

Introduction to Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies — GSFS 101
Heavenly Histories: The Making of Western Cosmology from Antiquity to the Trial of Galileo — HIST 205