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Dr Gillian Jack

Profile summary

Professional biography

I studied history at the University of Edinburgh, receiving an MA in 2001. I returned to study, receiving an MLitt and PhD from the University of St Andrews in 2014 and 2018 respectively. I wrote my PhD thesis on civic authorities' involvement with a monastery for repentant prostitutes in Florence between the fourteenth and early seventeenth centuries. I taught early modern history, and historiography at the University of St Andrews for several years. I joined the Open University as an Associate Lecturer in 2017 and currently teach on the following OU modules:

  • A223: Early Modern Europe: society and culture 1500-1780
  • A883: MA History


Research interests

My main research interests are late medieval and early modern prostitution, women religious, and poor relief in Catholic Europe. 

Impact and engagement


"Prostitution, repentance, and civic welfare in Renaissance Florence", in Do Good Unto All: Charity and poor relief across Christian Europe, 1400-1800, Timothy Fehler and Jared Thomley (eds), (Manchester, 2023)

Review of Mannock Strickland (1683-1744): Agent to English Convents in Flanders. Letters and Accounts from Exile edited by Richard G. Williams, for the Innes Review Vol. 69 no. 2 (November 2018)

17 peer-reviewed entries in A Biographical Encyclopedia of Early Modern Englishwomen, 1500-1650: Exemplary Lives and Memorable Acts, (Ashgate, October 2016)

A selection of recent talks and papers

"Shame, Gender, and the Body in Early Modern Europe” Renaissance Society of America Virtual Conference, December 2022 (panel organiser). Paper: “The Monastery of Sant’Elisabetta delle Convertite as a place of penitence and prevention.”

“Convertite Nuns and the Grand Ducal Family in Early Seventeenth-Century Tuscany,” Renaissance Society of America Virtual Conference April 2021

"Bodies on trial: sex, sexuality, and gender before the courts in Florence" Society for Renaissance Studies Biannual Conference, Norwich, July 2021 (cancelled due to Covid-19)

"Medieval Sex Lives," Previously... Scotland's History Festival, 23 November 2019

“Licit and illicit sex: female prostitution and male homosexuality in Renaissance Florence,” Birkbeck Medieval Seminar, 21 June 2019

“A nefarious and unnatural evil: How prostitution was used as an anti-sodomy measure, and how anti-sodomy measures were used to fund former prostitute nuns in Renaissance Florence,” LGBT History Month forum, University of St Andrews, 23 February 2018

“Sex and the City: Locating Prostitution in Late Medieval Florence,” Gender and Transgression, University of St Andrews, May 2017

"A Guild for Prostitutes? Rethinking Prostitution and the Onestà in Renaissance Florence," Society for Renaissance Studies Biannual Conference, Glasgow, July 2016