Loyola University Chicago

Department of History

The Ramonat Seminar

The History Department is very pleased to offer, through the generosity of donor Susan Ramonat, the annual Ramonat Seminar in American Catholic History and Culture.


The Ramonat Seminar is an interdisciplinary, two-semester course that provides Loyola undergraduates with the unique opportunity to explore changing topics within American Catholic history, literature, and culture through hands-on research.

Taught by a Loyola faculty member, the seminar is limited to 12 participants who pursue common readings in the fall semester and individual research projects in the spring semester. Unlike standard undergraduate courses, the Ramonat Seminar provides promising students, who will be named Ramonat Scholars, with resources for research, travel, and even publication in digital and print formats, all aimed at their general professional development. The best final research paper or digital project from each year’s seminar, to be voted on by a panel of three judges from among the faculty of the University, will win The Susan Ramonat Prize for Scholarly Excellence.

The Ramonat Seminar is a two-semester course. Students are required to take both the fall and spring courses. Fall class meetings will be built around readings, discussion, field trips, guest lectures with leading scholars, and digital projects. Working with the instructor, local archivists, and librarians, students will develop and complete a research project of their own design in the spring semester. Primary sources that students might choose include:

  • Parish and institutional records;
  • Newspapers;
  • Novels;
  • Memoirs, Diaries and Journals;
  • Court Records;
  • Maps;
  • Photographs;
  • Sheet Music and Musical Event Programs;
  • Theater Programs;
  • Sporting Event Records;
  • and Library Collections.

Each student will have access to a $500 research budget for her or his project. Final presentations of this research can take the form of a research paper or a digital project. Projects will be presented at the end of the semester at a public mini-conference and the best paper or project will be awarded The Susan Ramonat Prize for Scholarly Excellence.

Instructors: Elizabeth Tandy Shermer and Ruby Oram

APPLY FOR THE 2018-19 RAMONAT SEMINAR! See below for details.

The 2018-2019 academic year is a perfect moment to offer a Ramonat Seminar focused on American Politics and how Catholics and Catholicism shaped twentieth-century politics at the local, state, and federal level. There will be a midterm election in Fall 2018 and a Chicago mayoral election in Spring 2019.  

Readings and speakers will explore how Catholics shaped Chicago’s ward politics from the Progressive Era through the two Daley machines, how Catholics across Illinois brought their faith and sensibilities to the legislature, and how Catholics and Catholicism factored in the transformation of American politics. 

A major feature of this course must accordingly be the hostility Catholics, their parishes, and their elected representatives faced, providing insights into the struggles Catholics had attaining voting rights, securing protection against religious discrimination at home and at work, as well as being broadly recognized as a vital, legitimate part of the American polity.

An examination of twentieth-century local, state, and national politics will show students how the face of American Catholicism dramatically changed from the Irish and Italian immigrants to the Latino and South Asian immigrants who have recently won elected office through the Republican and Democratic parties.

For 2018-19, the Ramonat Seminar is cross-listed with the following departments and programs: Political Science, Theology, Religious Studies, Urban Studies, Sociolegal Studies, and Catholic Studies.

Application deadline is April 6, 2018.

Application for the Ramonat Seminar is competitive and open to undergraduate students in all majors. Accepted students are required to complete both the fall and spring courses. Applicants are required to submit by April 6, 2018:

Students will learn of their acceptance by April 13th, before the start of fall registration. For more information about the Ramonat Seminar or to apply, please contact Professor Elizabeth Tandy Shermer, Department of History (eshermer@luc.edu).

2017-18 Ramonat SeminarVision Questers and Mission Makers

Religion played a large role in the European-American conquest of the New World. Catholic mission activities often constitute a painful chapter in indigenous history. Yet Christianity and mission education programs have also played an important role in the survival and revival of Native American societies and sovereignty. Christianity was tool of conquest and perhaps even genocide yet it also was a space where natives and newcomers could explore new spiritual worlds and create a common sacred ground. This class will explore the conflicted history of Catholic evangelism in North America including the legacy of Junipero Sera and the Spanish missions, the Jesuits in New France and the creation of the Jesuit Relations, as well as the role of Catholic mission in Anglo-America’s “civilization program.” The two semester class will also explore aspects of American Indian spirituality through seminal figures such as Neolin, Handsome Lake, Tenskwatawa, Kateri Tekakwitha, and Black Elk and the influence of Christianity in its repression, evolution, and renaissance.

2017-18 Ramonat Seminar Instructor:

Ted Karamanski is Professor of History and Director of the Public History Program. He has written extensively on Native American history and teaches courses on a range of topics.