Graduate Summer Institute on the Catholic Imagination


Call open: December 15, 2019 – March 15
Fellows announced: April, 2020
Institute Dates: July 8-18, 2020

NOTE: The Inaugural Graduate Summer Institute has been POSTPONED.
New Dates: June 16-26, 2021

The Graduate Summer Institute (GSI) provides an opportunity for current graduate students to broaden and deepen their engagement with the Catholic imagination, specifically in the spheres of theology, poetry, literature, and film. This ten day program combines master classes and seminars with scholarly research, relaxed time for community collaboration and reflection, and a series of interesting excursions—all in the setting of one of the country’s most bustling campuses and cities.

Participants in the Institute will:

  • Take part in small-group Master Classes with Loyola faculty, visiting scholars, and luminaries in the field
  • Delve deeper into the idea of a “Catholic imagination” and its expression in arts, literatures, creative work, and criticism
  • Explore personal topics of interest while building public scholarship and intellectual/spiritual growth
  • Build communities of intellectual and professional collaboration and networking
  • Explore the cultural riches of Chicago (and enjoy summer days on Lake Michigan)
  • Develop and contribute a piece of work based on the themes of the seminar and areas of academic or creative focus

Who should apply?

The seminar is designed for a broad and diverse range of graduate students in the areas of (but not limited to): theology, literary studies, creative writing, fine & performing arts, philosophy, digital humanities, and more. All graduate students are encouraged to apply, particularly those with interdisciplinary interests and objectives.

How to apply?

Interested students should complete the online application form. You will be asked to submit the following:
1. A letter of application (of no more than 1000 words) that describes your interest in the Catholic imagination—particularly in its expression in arts, literatures, creative work, and/or criticism;
2. A current curriculum vitae;
3. 2-3 writing samples, totaling no more than 6,000 words, or samples of creative work such as film clips.
You may be contacted for additional information after you submit the form.

Travel, Accommodation, Excursions, and Tuition

The Graduate Summer Institute on the Catholic Imagination is a fully funded initiative. The benefits for Summer Fellows of the Institute are as follows:
  • Travel reimbursement of up to $500
  • Accommodation at Loyola Flats—either single occupancy or private bedrooms with shared occupancy. All flats have full kitchens and large living areas
  • Several (but not all) lunches and dinners
  • Admission fees to all excursions
  • No tuition will be charged, but graduate credit will not be available

Sample Daily Schedule

Each day will begin with a morning seminar (from 9:30 AM -12 Noon) led by Institute faculty. Seminars will consider 2-3 texts of wide variety—each text innovative and constructive, but with solid anchors in the living tradition of the Catholic literary and artistic tradition. Afternoons will be devoted to several things (depending on the day): one-on-one discussions with faculty, informal seminars, 30 minute video conferences with esteemed guests, and excursions in Chicago. There will be a few evening events as well—mainly film screenings and social gatherings. Substantial time will made available for reflection, work on independent or collaborative seminar projects—essays, original fiction, poetry, film, web projects, etc.—culminating pieces of the Institute experience which will be published and shared with the larger community.

Institute Faculty—Inaugural Year

Randy Boyagoda—Fiction, Biography, Cultural Criticism
Liam Callanan— Poetry, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, Art in Public and Digital Spaces
Brigid Pasulka—Creative Fiction and Nonfiction, Pedagogies of Writing
Michael P. Murphy—Theology, Literary Criticism, Cultural Criticism, Film


Randy Boyagoda is the author of three novels. His latest, Original Prin, was named a Globe and Mail Best Book of 2018 and is the first of a planned trilogy. He is Principal and Vice-President of St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto, where he is also Professor of English and holds the Basilian Chair in Christianity, Arts, and Letters. He contributes essays, reviews, and opinions to publications including The New York Times, Guardian, Commonweal, and America. A former President of PEN Canada, he is Chair of 2019 Scotiabank Giller Prize jury and lives in Toronto with his wife and their four daughters.
Liam Callanan, a novelist, teacher and journalist, was the 2017 winner (in fiction) of The George W. Hunt, S.J., Prize for Excellence in Journalism, Arts & Letters. Liam is the author of four books, including the story collection Listen, the novel All Saints, the novel The Cloud Atlas, an Edgar Award finalist and Paris by the Book, a national bestseller which was translated into multiple languages and was the 2019 winner of the Edna Ferber Prize. Liam’s work has also appeared in Commonweal, AmericaThe Wall Street Journal, Slate, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, and elsewhere, and he has recorded numerous essays for public radio.  Executive producer and creator of the Poetry Foundation-sponsored animated poetry series, Poetry Everywhere, Liam has also taught for the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers and chaired the English department at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee.
Brigid Pasulka’s first novel, A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009), alternates between Nazi-occupied and post-Communist Poland. It won the 2010 PEN/Hemingway Award, the Polish American Historical Society Creative Arts Award, and a Barnes & Noble Discover Award, and it has been translated into six languages, including Polish. Her second novel, The Sun and Other Stars (Simon & Schuster, 2014), is set on the Italian Riviera and involves butchering, soccer and Dante. It was a Chicago Tribune Editor’s Choice and an Indie Next Pick. Pasulka’s linked short stories set in post-Communist Russia have won awards and been published in various literary journals, and her upcoming novel is set in 1980s East Berlin. Pasulka lives with her husband and son in Chicago, where she runs the writing center at the Whitney Young Magnet High School on the Near West Side of Chicago.
Michael P. Murphy directs The Catholic Studies and Hank Center for the Catholic Intellectual Heritage at Loyola University Chicago. His research interests are in Theology and Literature, Critical Theory, and Christian Spirituality, but he also writes and engages public media on issues in eco-theology, ethics, and the literary/political cultures of Catholicism. Mike is a National Endowment for the Humanities fellow and his first book, A Theology of Criticism (Oxford), was named a "Distinguished Publication" in 2008 by the American Academy of Religion. He has published occasional pieces on topics ranging from spiritualities of citizenship to dating in digital culture. His most recent scholarly pieces are the theological introduction to Robert Hugh Benson’s 1907 dystopian classic Lord of the World (Ave Maria, 2016), “Breaking Bodies: O’Connor and the Aesthetics of Consecration” in Revelation & Convergence: Flannery O’Connor and Her Catholic Heritage (CUA Press, 2017), and an edited volume, this need to dance/this need to kneel: Denise Levertov and the Poetics of Faith, (Wipf and Stock, coming in fall, 2019). He is currently at work on a monograph entitled The Dirty Realists: Catholic Fiction, Poetry, and Film 1965-2015.