Director, Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies
Peter Howard is a historian of Renaissance Italy and of medieval thought with a particular interest in developing new paths for exploring culture, especially in its religious, visual and oral/aural performative aspects. He holds a PhD in history from Monash University (1991), and completed advanced studies in theology through Catholic Theological College (MCD University of Divinity, 1972-80). His close on 40 publications to date include two sole-authored books, a published named-lecture, and three edited collections. He has been a Fellow and also Visiting Professor at Villa I Tatti: The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies, a Fellow of the European University Institute, Florence, and a visiting scholar at the Istituto per le scienze religiose, Bologna. His numerous presentations at international conferences include the Etienne Gilson Memorial Lecture at the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, University of Toronto (2011) and a conference in the Vatican on the Sistine Chapel (2015). He has been chief investigator on a number of Australian Research Council Grants, and is currently pursuing funding for a new project on ‘the Sistine Chapel and the Visual Art of Preaching’ and another, which he leads, entitled ‘Health, Disease and the Environment in Early Modern Tuscany, c.1600-c.1780’.
Peter’s contribution to higher education and pedagogy has been recognized by awards in three important areas: undergraduate teaching (2007, 2011, 2012), honours supervision (2017), and postgraduate supervision (2009). Apart from courses on the Italian renaissance, he has taught a variety of thematic courses in religious and cultural history, spanning a broad chronological period from the eighth century BCE to the present. In 1996 he pioneered (with Professor F.W. Kent) Australia’s first overseas credit unit, The Renaissance in Florence – a course which he continues to develop. During his time at Monash he has so far supervised to completion 13 PhD students, 8 Masters by research, and 50 honours students.
A/Prof Howard is founding Director of the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (2012-) at Monash, Convener of the Prato Consortium for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (2010-), and Director of the Arts Focus ‘Body in the City’ Research Program (2016-). Until recently he was Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Arts (2013-2017), Acting and then Interim Dean (April-June 2017).
Peter founded the Bill Kent Foundation (2010) to fund activities related to Monash Prato and Medieval and Renaissance Studies, and established and administered the Australian European University Fellowships Association (1995-2016), sending more than 60 young Australian researchers to the European University Institute, Florence.