Matthew Gaetano

Matthew Gaetano

Associate Professor of History
“No thinker is so profound as to be able to anticipate with accuracy the course of history, no scholar so learned as to think he has exhausted it or has come to the bottom of it, and no sovereign so powerful that he may with impunity disregard its silent teaching.”
— Friedrich Schlegel

Faculty Information

Additional Faculty Information for Matthew Gaetano


B.A., History, Hillsdale College, 2005

M.A., History, University of Pennsylvania, 2007

Ph.D., History, University of Pennsylvania, 2013


Dissertation Prize from the Society of Italian Historical Studies (2015)

Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation Fellowship, 2009-2010

Lemmermann Fondazione Fellowship, 2010


Renaissance Society of America

Sixteenth Century Society

Academy of Philosophy & Letters

Society for Spanish and Portuguese Historical Studies

Society for Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy

Society for Early Modern Catholic Studies

Mullins Scholar of the Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies at the University of Southern California (2010-present)


“Nicholas of Cusa and Pantheism in Early Modern Catholic Theology,” in Nicholas of Cusa and the Making of the Early Modern World, ed. Simon J.G. Burton, Joshua Hollmann, and Eric M. Parker (Leiden: Brill, 2019), 199-227.

“Lumen unitivum: The Light of Reason and the Aristotelian Sect in Early Modern Scholasticism.” In Let There Be Enlightenment: The Religious and Mystical Sources of Rationality, ed. Anton Matytsin and Dan Edelstein, 165-86. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2018.

“The ‘studia humanitatis’ and Renaissance Thomism at the University of Padua,” Divus Thomas 120 (2017): 21-47.

“Faith in Domingo de Soto’s Commentary on Romans”
In Fides Virtus: The Virtue of Faith from the Twelfth to the Early Sixteenth Century, eds. Marco Forlivesi, Riccardo Quinto, and Silvana Vecchio, 111-33. Münster: Aschendorff Verlag GmbH & Co., 2014.

An introduction to and translation of Francisco Suárez’s “What Kind of Corporeal or Political Life Men Would Have Professed in the State of Innocence”
Journal of Markets & Morality 15, no. 2 (Fall 2012): 527-563.

Dissertation Title: “Renaissance Thomism at the University of Padua, 1465-1583.”


As an undergraduate at Hillsdale College, the study of history helped me to see the contingency of my ideas. I realized that I owed debts to the past that I barely understood. After receiving my postgraduate degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, I returned to my alma mater. Teaching history at Hillsdale has been a genuine privilege and pleasure. Few colleges set history within the context of other disciplines like our Western Heritage course at Hillsdale, and I enjoy teaching it to freshmen. I love introducing students to the great figures in the Western tradition: Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Augustine, Aquinas, Petrarch, Luther, and others. In this course and in the whole Core Curriculum, Hillsdale seeks to initiate students into a conversation about what is true and good.

We respect ancient and medieval traditions of learning but also engage the intellectual and cultural currents of the present in dialogue with the wisdom of the past. As Cicero said, “Not to know what happened before we were born is to remain perpetually a child.” If we see ourselves as the destiny of the human race, then even the study of history becomes self-indulgent. If our established views of things are the only standard for examining the past—if we judge before we understand—then it is difficult to learn anything from history. Instead, we must “listen to the dead with our eyes.”