I write and teach about North American religious history, American Catholic culture, psychedelic spirituality, sport and religious embodiment, religious history of the American West.
My research focuses on intersections of religion and American culture, exploring how people create and inhabit racial, gender, and religious identities. My 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.
My 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. I also am beginning work on a project that explores racial identity and implicit white-ness in the historical experience of members of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.
I am a trained psilocybin facilitator for Oregon's psilocybin services initiative, and was in the first cohort of state-licensed facilitators in the U.S. As a scholar of religion, I am interested in the religious implications of the psychedelic renaissance in the U.S., especially dynamics of spirituality and healing in psychedelic-assisted therapy.
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.
Recent publications and interviews:
"Boxing" roundtable for Beyond Belief on the British Broadcast Corporation (BBC), December 13, 2021.
“Gene Tunney’s Prayer: The Complex Somatics of Catholic Manhood,” in special forum “Studying Masculinities, Catholic Style” in American Catholic Studies, Vol. 132, (Summer 2021), 11-15.
“Religious Bias, Christian Privilege, and Anti-Muslimism in the DPD Classroom,” in Transformative Approaches to Social Justice Education Equity and Access in the College Classroom. Nana Osei-Kofi, Bradley Boovy, and Kali Furman, eds. New York: Routledge, 2020. (co-authored with Kryn Freeling-Burton)
"‘Relational Love’: Franciscan Values in Practice and the Mayo Clinic," in Franciscan Women: Female Identities and Religious Culture, Medieval and Beyond. Lezlie Knox and David B. Couturier, eds. St. Bonaventure, NY: Franciscan Institute Publications, 2020.
“How Boxing Fit Devotional Culture Among Catholic Immigrants” America (Vol. 220, Issue 6), March 2019.
"Rosaries and Rope Burns: Boxing and Manhood in American Catholicism," Center for the Humanities, Oregon State University.