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Dr. Gretchen Starr-LeBeau

Jeanne and George Todd Professor of Religious Studies 


Religious Studies


  • PhD, University of Michigan
  • MA, University of Michigan
  • BA (with high distinction), University of Virginia


Dr. Gretchen Starr-LeBeau worked for several years in the History Department at the University of Kentucky before joining the Religious Studies Program at Principia College. Her teaching focuses on comparative religion and the history of religion; she teaches courses covering world religions; the Holocaust; and gender, religion, and law. Starr-LeBeau's research addresses inquisitorial history, Jewish converts to Christianity, and popular piety. She has also published work on gender in inquisitorial courts in Spain and Venice, and on penance in the early modern world. 

I love helping students develop their skills as readers and writers and sharing knowledge about different religious traditions. I also appreciate the opportunity to help students think through hard questions in the course, “God and the Holocaust.”


  • Jewish–Christian relations, 1450–1700
  • Comparative history of the Inquisition
  • Popular piety in the early modern world


Starr-LeBeau studies early modern inquisitorial tribunals in Spain, its colonies, and comparatively, with particular interest in questions of gender, the construction of religious identity, and epistemological processes. Her first book, In the Shadow of the Virgin (Princeton University Press, 2003) was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award in history in 2004. She has also examined the similarities and differences between Catholic and Calvinist forms of discipline (inquisitions and consistories). In 2017 she co-edited Judging Faith, Punishing Sin: Inquisitions and Consistories in the Early Modern World with Charles H. Parker (Cambridge University Press), which appeared in Spanish translation in 2020.  Most recently, she has authored a survey of the history of the Spanish Inquisition (Seven Myths about the Spanish Inquisition, Hackett Publishing, forthcoming).


  • Association for Spanish and Portuguese Historical Studies
  • Renaissance Society of America


  • Horace Edwin Harper Jr. and Evelyn Wright Harper Award for Teaching Excellence, Principia College, 2020
  • Jeanne and George Todd Professor of Religious Studies, 2019-present
  • American Philosophical Society Sabbatical Fellowship, 2010
  • American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship, 2010, declined
  • Participant, National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Summer Institute, "Venice, Jews, and Italian Culture," Venice, Italy, 2008
  • Finalist, National Jewish Book Awards, History category, 2004
  • NEH Summer Stipend, 2001
  • Chancellor's Outstanding Teaching Award, University of Kentucky, 2001
  • Fulbright Fellowship, 1993–1994
  • Phi Beta Kappa, 1990


  • Seven Myths about the Spanish Inquisition, Hackett Publishing, forthcoming.
  • Judging Faith, Punishing Sin: Inquisitions and Consistories in the Early Modern World, co-edited with Charles H. Parker, Cambridge University Press, 2017.
  • Spanish translation of Judging Faith, Punishing Sin: Fe y Castigo en el Mundo Moderno. Una Historia Comparada, Barcelona: Catedra, 2020.
  • Guest Editor, Nashim, "Women, Jews, Venetians," 2013.
  • In the Shadow of the Virgin: Inquisitors, Friars, and Conversos in Guadalupe, Spain, Princeton University Press, 2003.

Dr. Gretchen Starr-LeBeau CV