Visiting Scholar Dr. Giulia Marotta on "Catholic Female Historiography during the Modernist Crisis"

As part of its interdisciplinary and international collaboration strategy, the Center for Religion and Modernity (CRM) welcomes Dr. Giulia Marotta, to further develop her research in the areas of Roman Catholic historiography, doctrinal development, and their relationship to modernity. Dr. Marotta’s research at the CRM is sponsored by the “Women in Research” (WiRe) Fellowship Programme, funded by the DFG and WWU’s Equal Opportunity Office to foster the academic career advancement of female Postdocs and Professors.

Dr. Giulia Marotta
Dr. Giulia Marotta
© Linda Hennig

A graduate from the University of Palermo, Giulia Marotta has worked as post-doc at the Groupe Sociétés, Religions, Laïcités (CNRS/École pratique des hautes études, Sorbonne - Paris IV) and the Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life (Columbia University). She also held the position of Research Coordinator at the National Institute for Newman Studies (Duquesne University), specializing in both intellectual and doctrinal Catholic self-representations in terms of approach to history and innovation.

During her stay at the CRM, Giulia Marotta will conduct initial research and feasibility studies on a project addressing Catholic female historiography during the modernist crisis. In particular, she will analyze the case of Maude Petre (1863-1942) and her unique perspective on Christianity and historical dynamism as activist and historian of the modernist movement. The main question at stake in Petre’s historiographical reflection and practice was how to situate the event and experience of modernism. Was it a “strictly circumscribed affair” (letter by F. Von Hügel to M. Petre), emerged during the last years of the pontificate of Leo XIII and ended with the excommunication of Alfred Loisy (1908) and the death of George Tyrrell (1909)? Or was it rather the manifestation and proof of the “permanent, never quite finished” (ibidem) effort to reconcile the old faith with the ever changing nature of human existence?

Far from having merely theological and spiritual bearings, this debate about history and change within the Catholic Church reflects and reveals some essential aspects of modern Western understandings of major social and political issues. Furthermore, this question connects Christianity to other religious traditions struggling to define their identity amid forces urging innovation, dialogue, and development. Thus, the project’s results will also, indirectly, impact our understanding of other religious traditions and their relationship to modernity.

As an essential goal of the WiRe Fellowship Programme, the results of Dr. Marotta’s study and her research experience at the CRM will be disseminated through a variety of channels, in order to promote public understanding of the topic also among non-academics and inspire future female scientists. Dissemination activities will include a poster presentation, a roundtable discussion, and a research blog.