Women and Gender in American Catholicism

This year, I’m teaching one course at Harvard Divinity School while finishing my book manuscript, and it’s the course I’ve always wanted to teach: Women and Gender in American Catholicism. Check out the syllabus online and let me know what you would add — I had to cut so much good, new, work in this thriving subfield off of the official reading list, but I hope my students will make a dent with their writing projects!

Urban Trinity and #PopeinPhilly

While much of my work at Bryn Mawr moves my research on Catholic women and girls into the larger world of women’s education history — with a particular focus on the Seven Sisters colleges — this week I’ve been enjoying a return to my American religious history roots. With #PopeinPhilly just a few days away, I’ve been tweeting glimpses of the Catholic public culture I’ve been seeing around town (while carrying my Pope Tote, of course) and following Philadelphia-area colleagues who are using the occasion of the Papal Visit in their college classes.

Back in June, I was interviewed for History Making Productions’ new documentary “Urban Trinity: The Story of Catholic Philadelphia,” and last night I finally had a chance to screen the final product with some of the other contributing scholars. I was thrilled to see the hard work of producer and series creator Kate Oxx make its debut, and to watch so many friends and mentors share the story of American Catholic history with a broader audience.

As the trailer teases, “Urban Trinity” is a terrific film, and I’m proud to have had a (very small) part in its making! I’ll update this space when the film and additional educational materials go online, but if you’re in Philadelphia’s 6ABC viewing area, the first two parts will air tonight, Tuesday, September 22, at 7pm (and the third on Sunday, September 27 at midnight) before a sold-out World Premiere at the World Meeting of Families film festival Wednesday, September 23. For more information, visit the Urban Trinity website here, or follow the latest news from the production team on Facebook.

Summer Research on Storify

Exploring materials for child readers at the American Antiquarian Society, June 2015 (photo via @AmAntiquarian).

With the support of two weeks paid research leave from Bryn Mawr College Special Collections, I was able to participate in two research seminars over the past month that will help me move forward my dissertation research into new projects (more on those soon!)

For the moment, I’m using Storify to share the conversations started in Worcester and New York:

June 21-26, 2015
Reading Children: Summer Seminar in the History of the Book in American Culture (#PHBAC15)
American Antiquarian Society (Worcester, MA)

[View the story “Reading Children: The 2015 Summer Seminar in the History of the Book in American Culture” on Storify]

June 29-July 2, 2015
2015 Summer Institute in Digital Humanities
New York Metro American Studies Association / New York University (New York, NY)

[View the story”NYMASA 2015 Summer Institute: The Digital City” on Storify]

Now that I’m back at Bryn Mawr for the rest of the summer, I’ll be working on my new course for the Department of HIstory, “History in Public” (Spring 2016) and continuing research for Black at Bryn Mawr, the project that inspired this course. There’s a Storify for that too: view “Black at Bryn Mawr” on Storify.

Writing around the Web

I spent the middle of October back in the Midwest at the Oral History Association annual meeting and the Loyola University Chicago conference Crossings and Dwellings: Restored Jesuits, Women Religious, American Experience, 1814-2014. Read more at the following sites:

Women of Faith: A Conversation with Mary Beth Fraser Connolly

As I wrote in my dissertation acknowledgements (coming soon to a ProQuest database near you), my research is indebted to the interdisciplinary circles of scholars working on American Catholic history in Chicago and beyond, and I have benefited from the friendship and community of a terrific group of young scholars in Catholic Studies, one of whom, Mary Beth Fraser Connolly, was kind enough to talk with me recently about her new book on the Sisters of Mercy.

Women of Faith: The Chicago Sisters of Mercy and the Evolution of a Religious Community (Fordham, 2014) is a sweeping institutional history that, in many ways, revives my interest in the genre of institutional history.

To read my conversation with Mary Beth about research, writing, and women religious, visit Religion in American HistoryWomen of Faith: A Conversation with Mary Beth Fraser Connolly.

Recent Publications

Spring Quarter is here, and with it comes my dissertation defense and move to Philadelphia so this space will be pretty quiet for the next two months or so. In the meantime, I’m happy to have some new writing out in the world:

  • ” ‘Have You Ever Read?’ Imagining Women, Bibles, and Religious Print in Nineteenth-Century America,” in U.S. Catholic Historian 31.3 (Summer 2013): 1-21 [link to Project Muse]
  • “Demystifying Catholic Sisters in a Digital Age” for Sightings [link]

See you on the other side!

Invisible Designs

This week, join graduate students and faculty at the University of Chicago conference “Invisible Designs: New Perspectives on Race and Consumer Capitalism,” organized by Ph.D. students Chris Dingwall and Korey Garibaldi. From the conference website:

Invisible Designs conference poster 2013

This conference takes design as an object and a theme to gain new perspective on the study of race in American consumer society. How has racialized imagery sustained the work of capitalism and American dreams of the “good life”? Considering design in relation to problems of self-fashioning, material culture, immigration, urban and suburban development, and decorative commodities, we will engage with the latest scholarly conversations about race and capitalism and explore paths for future inquiry. Ultimately the conference aims to uncover the otherwise “invisible” cultural logics and historical processes that have woven racial difference into the fabric of American life.

I’ll be presenting some preliminary research on first communion portrait photography and the material culture of Nuyorican migration as part of the panel “Life Design” on Thursday morning, October 24. The conference and related exhibition, “Race and the Design of American Life,” will take place at Special Collections Research Center at Regenstein Library.

View the full schedule and register online. [link]