Dr Kenneth R G Austin

M.A., M.Litt., Ph.D.(St.And.)

  • BS8 1TB

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Personal profile

Research interests

Contact Information

Office: 2.45, 13 Woodland Road

Phone: +44 (0)117 928 7620

Email: kenneth.austin@bristol.ac.uk

Consultation Hours


Research Interests

My research lies in the field of late medieval and early modern European history. More specifically, I am interested in the intellectual, religious and cultural history of this period, and especially the connections between the worlds of the Renaissance and the Reformation.

My doctoral research focused on the life and writings of the sixteenth-century scholar, bible translator and Jewish convert to Christianity, Immanuel Tremellius (c.1510-1580). I subsequently published this as my first monograph (Ashgate, 2007). This was the first modern study of a highly influential figure who has been surprisingly overlooked in the historiography of the European Reformation. In addition to the monograph, I published a number of articles stemming from this research.

Building on that first project, I have recently published The Jews and the Reformation (Yale University Press, 2020). In this monograph, which ranges across western Europe, and covers the period between the late fifteenth and late seventeenth centuries, I investigate the impact that the Reformations - Protestant and Catholic - had on Christian attitudes towards Jews, and on Judaeo-Christian relations. This volume considers themes including the place of Jewish language and learning in a Christian context, the relationship between toleration and persecution, and the consequences of religious pluralism.

I am currently working on correspondence and friendship networks in the context of the Renaissance and Reformation. I have already published several articles and book chapters on this topic, including on Petrarch, and the seventeenth-century scholar, Peiresc.

With Sebastiaan Verveij (English) I co-ordinate the faculty's early modern studies research cluster.

Research supervision

I would be interested in supervising students who wish to work on any subject which overlaps with my research interests outlined above. I would particularly welcome proposals in the following areas:

  • Any aspect of Protestantism, and especially Calvinism, in continental Europe
  • The Renaissance
  • Scholarship of the fifteenth to seventeenth centuries
  • Friendship and correspondence networks in the Renaissance and Reformation eras
  • Topics relating to the encounter (positive or negative) of different religions and confessions
  • Late medieval and early modern Italian history

I have recently supervised, or currently supervise, research students who work on the following topics:

  • Food as a marker of religious identity in early modern Spain.
  • Seventeenth-century Catholic martyrs in a global perspective
  • Male witches in early modern England
  • Philosemitism in Seventeenth-century England
  • A prosopographical study of the Tudor privy council.

Please do not hesitate to get in touch with me to discuss your research ideas.


Among the units I have taught in recent years are the following:

  • The Early Reformation (second year Lecture Response Unit)
  • Early Modern Italy (third year Lecture Response Unit)
  • Calvinism and Europe (third year Special Subject)
  • Getting Acquainted with Friendship (third year Reflective History unit)
  • Toleration and Persecution in Medieval and Early Modern Europe (MA optional unit)

I also contribute to the following team-taught units:

  • The Early Modern World (1st year outline)
  • Urban Worlds (1st year option)
  • Fear and Loathing (2nd year option)
  • Sexualities (3rd year option)


Between 2020 and 2023, I am the School Education Director (SED) for the School of Humanities.

I have previously been Programme Director of the MA in History (2010-13), and Deputy Head of History/ Undergraduate Programme Director (2014-16).

I have been a member of Senate since 2014.

I have been an External Examiner at the Universities of Birmingham (MA: 2010-13), Plymouth (BA: 2013-16), Swansea (BA and MA: 2016-18) and Reading (BA: 2016-20)




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