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Jessica Fowler, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

[email protected]


Main Hall 304


Jessica J. Fowler is Associate Professor of Latin America and the Atlantic World. She teaches courses such as Colonial Latin America, Modern Latin America, Witches and their Bewitched in the Atlantic World, Race in Latin America, History of Science, Introduction to the Atlantic World, and American History II. She is also currently developing various new courses to make History as engaging as possible for the broadest number of students.

Before coming to UMW, Dr. Fowler earned her Ph.D. from the University of California, Davis and spent seven years in Spain working as both a researcher and university instructor. Her research investigates how the Spanish Inquisition, through its own personnel, procedures, and paperwork, was able to create, as well as spread, a particular form of heresy, alumbradismo, across the entire Spanish Empire. She is also a member of the international research group “História das Inquisições” and continues to collaborate with Spanish colleagues on research projects funded by the Spanish government. During the 2023-2024 academic year she is a Research Fellow and Visiting Associate Professor of Women’s Studies and Catholicism at Harvard Divinity School.

Recent Exhibitions

Journal Articles

“Process and Punishment: Alleged Alumbrados before the Mexican Holy Office, 1593-1603.” Colonial Latin American Review, Vol. 29, No.3 (2020) Special Issue: New Light on the Spanish Inquisition in America, coordinated by Kris Lane & Kenneth Mills in honor of Richard Greenleaf.

“Questioning the 1623 Edict of Grace: Differentiating Between Orthodox and Heterodox Interiority.” Culture & History: A Digital Journal. Vol. 6, No. 2 (2017).  Invited submission for special issue, “Interiority, Subject, Authority: Conversions and Counter Reformation in the Construction of the Subject (16th-17th Century)” coordinated by Fernando Rodríguez Mediano and Carlos Cañete.

Book Chapters

“Iberian Inquisitions.” Invited entry for Oxford Bibliographies in Atlantic History. []

“Definition and Exclusion: Containing Alumbradismo” in Inquisición y lenguaje, siglos XVI-XIX, eds. Gerardo Lara Cisneros, Gabriel Torres Puga, Miguel Rodrigues Lourenço, & Susana Bastos Mateus (Mexico: Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas, UNAM). (Invited chapter. Expected publication: 2023).

“Assembling Alumbradismo: The Evolution of a Heretical Construction” in After Conversion: Iberia and the Emergence of Modernity, ed. Mercedes García-Arenal (Brill: 2016).

“Illuminated Islands: Luisa de los Reyes and the Inquisition in Manila,” in Devout Laywomen in the Early Modern World, ed. Alison Weber (United Kingdom: Routledge: 2016).

In Preparation

Illuminating the Empire: The Spanish Inquisition and the Making of a Global Heresy, 1500-1700.

“Religious Critics and Aspiring Mystics: Alumbrados” for Cambridge Companion to the Spanish Inquisition, edited by Lu Ann Homza (Invited contribution)