As a historian, I study the role of gender and sexuality in forming and re-forming religious and intellectual communities in the nineteenth- and twentieth-century United States.
My current book project, The Young Catholic: Girlhood and the Making of American Catholicism focuses on the vast output of a vibrant American Catholic publishing industry, and the young women readers, writers, and educational institutions that grew up around it during the second half of the nineteenth century. I use books and reading to illustrate the formation of Catholic laywomen’s identities and highlight the role of laywomen and their daughters as makers of culture and status for upwardly mobile, second- and third-generation American Catholics. In the process, my research demonstrates the ways in which gender, cultural and devotional life, and class mobility were inextricably linked by the turn of the 20th century.
Publications associated with this project include:
- “‘Have You Ever Read?’ Imagining Women, Bibles, and Religious Print in Nineteenth-Century America,” in the peer-reviewed journal U.S. Catholic Historian 31.3 (Summer 2013) [link]
- “The Place of Catholic Women’s Culture” (Religion in American History, 2013) [link]
I have worked to document the visual culture of Puerto Rican Catholic childhoods in mid-20th century New York City, and wrote on the intersections of race, religion, and sexuality for the Oxford Handbook of Religion and Race in American History.
As the centennial of the 19th Amendment is marked, I am engaged in speaking and writing projects that assess women’s history in museums, archives, and public monument projects.
Additional article projects in progress include an assessment of campus history projects as care work, an exploration of the uses of eBay for scholars of religion, and a history of women’s presence at the Catholic Summer School of America in the Progressive era (funded by Colgate University’s Upstate Institute).
Following additional local history threads, I am also beginning research on the life history of Ella Harding — a nineteenth-century Catholic “spinster” school teacher from Auburn, New York — as part of a new project that explores singleness as a frame for American women’s religious history.