North American religious history, American Catholicism, religious embodiment, and methodological issues surrounding the application of ethnographic methods to historical research and writing.
Her research focuses on the culture of American Catholicism, historical intersections of religion and social reform in the United States, and the construction of gender within American religious traditions. Her first book The New Nuns: Racial Justice and Religious Reform in the 1960s (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2007) documents the involvement of Catholic women religious in racial justice programs during the civil rights era, exploring how activism in this “racial apostolate” transformed sisters’ ideas about gender and power and influenced the reforms they implemented in their own religious congregations in the wake of the Second Vatican Council. The New Nuns won the 2009 Eric Hoffer Prize in the category of Culture and was a finalist for the Hoffer Grand Prize. Dr. Koehlinger is currently working on three projects. Her next monograph, Rosaries and Rope Burns: Boxing and Manhood in American Catholicism, 1890-1970 (for Princeton University Press) explores the historical significance of the sport of boxing among American Catholics, particularly boxing's relationship with religious ideas about the redemptive value of physical suffering and blood, and the sport's effect on performances of manhood among particular racial and ethnic groups of Catholics. Dr. Koehlinger also is writing From Charity to Justice, a history of the apostolate of Franciscans in the U.S. for the Academy of American Franciscan History, and she is co-editor of the Oxford Handbook of American Catholicism. Her work has been supported by the Center for the Study of Religion at Princeton, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism at Notre Dame, and the Institute for the Advanced Study of Religion at Yale.
Rosaries and Rope Burns: Boxing and Manhood in American Catholicism, 1880-1970
Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press,(manuscript in preparation)
The New Nuns: Racial Justice and Religious Reform in the 1960s
(Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007).
Winner of 2009 Eric Hoffer Prize, Culture category.
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