Sabine MacCormack

Sabine MacCormack
  • University of Notre Dame
  • Residential Fellow (2011-2012)
  • “Natural Philosophy, History and Theology in the Writings of José de Acosta, S.J. (1540-1600)”

Sabine MacCormack was the Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., Professor of Arts and Letters at the University of Notre Dame, with a joint appointment in the Departments of History and Classics. She was an historian and specialized in religion and culture in Roman society and colonial Latin America. Sabine MacCormack passed away June 2012.

Professor MacCormack is the author of five books, including Art and Ceremony in late Antiquity (University of California Press, 1981; Italian translation, 1993), Religion in the Andes: Vision and Imagination in Early Colonial Peru (Princeton University Press, 1991), and The Shadows of Poetry: Vergil in the Mind of Augustine (University of California Press, 1998). In 2007, her most recent work, On the Wings of Time: Rome, the Incas, Spain and Peru (Princeton University Press, 2006) was awarded the Rawley Prize in Atlantic History and the 2007 Fagg Prize in Spanish, Portuguese, and Latin American History by the American Historical Association (AHA). She has written forty-seven articles and book chapters in a number of languages including English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian and edited two texts. Her innovative scholarship has revealed to readers, students, and scholars the conquest of the New World both from the perspectives of the Incas and from that of the European colonizers.

Her numerous honors include fellowships and awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Wilson Center, the Pew Trust, and the Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities. Professor MacCormack was selected as a Getty Scholar by The Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities (1990-1991), elected to membership in the American Philosophical Society (1997), selected as a Fellow of the Medieval Academy of America (2000), and elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2007). In 2003 she was honored with the prestigious Distinguished Achievement Award from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.


  • Ancient Authorities Intertwined

    Journal of Jesuit Studies, 2015

    Sabine MacCormack

    The article surveys and interprets the works produced by José de Acosta during his years in the New World and his revisions of, and additions to, those works after his return to Europe. Elucidating Acosta’s engagements with both Scripture and classical literature, the essay urges respect for the various religious, intellectual, and metaphysical commitments that structured Acosta’s arguments. Particular attention is given to Acosta’s wrestling with the limits of ancient geographic knowledge, on the one hand, and to his efforts to understand religion in the New World in light of ancient evidence of knowledge of God before Christianity and patristic essays on the conversion of the ancient Mediterranean.

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