Dr. Bren A. O. Murphy

Women's Studies & Gender Studies Program, Loyola University Chicago

Title and Précis:

Women Religious and the Cultivation of Democracy: Rich and Contentious Legacies

     This study examines the contributions that women religious have made to democracy and culture in the United States as well as their efforts to reconcile this knowledge and experience with their struggles for participation and agency within their own organizations as well as the Roman Catholic hierarchy. This project will examine the role of women religious regarding the pedagogy of citizenship, the incorporation and sustainment of democratic values and activism. The study will examine materials related to both the content and practice of teaching in Catholic schools as well as documents concerning health care and social service agencies. Particular attention will be paid to documents from The Sister Formation Movement as well as scholarly journals articles, memoirs and interviews.


     Dr. Bren Ortega Murphy has been a faculty member in Communication Studies at Loyola University Chicago since 1984 and holds a joint appointment in both the School of Communication and the Women’s Studies/Gender Studies program.  Her research areas include gender representation in popular culture, gender socialization, the glass ceiling phenomena, communication ethics, and service learning.  She is the co-author of two books, Hegemony in the Unites States [with Lee Artz] and Voices of Strong Democracy [with David Droge] and has written, directed and produced one radio documentary and two video documentaries, the latest of which is A Question of Habit: The Image of Women Religious in U.S. Popular Culture.