Current Research Projects

Three Narratives in Theorizing Catholic Intellectual Heritage: Autobiographical Investigation in Catholicism, Subjectivity, and Teacher Education

‌   Seungho Moon           Ann Marie Ryan         Terri Piggot

This project theorizes the meaning of Catholic cultural identity and its intellectual heritage based on three autobiographical narratives. We explore the ways in which Catholicism has constructed diverse epistemologies and subjectivities in specific sociopolitical contexts. Seungho Moon, the Principal Investigator, examines Korean Catholicism informed by post-colonial analysis of Western imperialism. The second author, Ann Marie Ryan, historicizes Irish American Catholicism in the process of her identity construction. The third author, Terri Pigott, introduces the complexity of Catholic identity drawing from her Filipina-Polish identity. We examine our understanding of Catholicism and its intellectual life as we encountered it in our everyday lives. From our examination of lived religion (Orsi, 2003), we theorize what that means for us as teacher educators and our students in a Jesuit Catholic institution.


Shakespeare’s Naught: Immateriality and Early Modern English Literature

James Knapp, Department of English

Shakespeare’s Naught explores how early modern writers responded to rapidly shifting ideas about the interrelation of their natural and spiritual worlds. Building on insights gleaned from recent scholarship stressing the importance of materiality and material conditions to our understanding of early modern culture, I argue that similar attention be placed on the period’s often contentious debates over immateriality. Reading poetry and drama by Shakespeare and his contemporaries alongside works of natural philosophy, medicine, and theology, I show how the literary imagination was both shaped by and contributed to unsettled debates concerning the nature of the immaterial and material.

~ Undergraduate Research Fellow: Joseph I. De Larauze


The Communicative Role of Hip Hop Culture in the Chicago Interfaith Community’s Struggle for Social Justice

George Villanueva, School of Communication

I merely suggest that there is a propensity among Catholics to take the objects and events and persons of ordinary life as hints of what God is like, in which God somehow lurks, even if (as is perhaps often the case) they are not completely self-conscious about these perceptions of enchantment.”—Andrew Greeley, The Sacraments of Sensibility (2000: 18)

Inspired by Andrew Greeley’s take on a “Catholic Imagination” that argues God and faith being embodied in the performance of everyday culture, I depart from a the imagination lens to propose a study of the communicative role of hip hop culture in Chicago’s interfaith community struggle for social justice. Hip hop as cultural performance in Chicago often concerns ordinary persons in the city’s lowest-income communities that are afflicted by the material effects of poverty, disinvestment, violence, and apathy. Indeed, the most attention-grabbing hip hop portrayed in mainstream media glorifies violence, misogyny, and nihilism in low-income Black and brown communities in Chicago. But this is not the whole story whatsoever, as aspects of Chicago hip hop culture that are situated in the same communities demonstrate themes and actions of social justice. This project seeks to study the more conscious hip hop culture concerned with social justice in the city, and particularly the strand that takes shape in communities of faith. This proposal seeks to undertake communication research on the role of hip hop culture in the struggle of social justice in churches and faith-based organizations (Catholic, Protestant Christian, and Islam) embedded within the lower-income south and west sides of Chicago. The research is uniquely significant to the social and political climate today in Chicago as the city grasps for solutions that can stem the violence afflicting Black and brown communities. Beyond public policy government work, the research project contends we must look into the intersectional power that faith and hip hop can add to the quest for collective solutions to city-wide violence.

~ Undergraduate Research Fellow: Sylvester F. Alonz