Dr. Giulia Marotta
Research Fellow (WiRe Fellowship Programme)
Dr. Giulia Marotta
10/2018 - 02/2019
Research Fellow (Women in Research Fellowship Programme) at the Centrum für Religion und Moderne, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität, Münster, Germany
10/2015 - 03/2018
Research Coordinator at the National Institute for Newman Studies, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, USA
09/2014 - 09/2015
Visiting Scholar at the Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life, Columbia University, New York, USA
Visiting Scholar at the National Institute for Newman Studies, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, USA
Visiting Scholar at the School of History & Cultures, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK
10/2012 - 05/2014
Post-doc at the Groupe Sociétés, Religions, Laïcités, (GSRL - UMR 8582), École pratique des hautes études – CNRS, Paris, France
Research Fellow at the Institute of Applied Philosophy, Faculty of Theology, Università della Svizzera italiana, Lugano, Switzerland
01/2008 - 03/2012
PhD (Doctor Europaeus Programme) in History, Department of Cultural, Historical-Archaeological, Socio-Anthropological, and Geographical Heritage, University of Palermo, in conjunction with Université de Savoie and Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
09/2004 - 03/2007
Master’s Degree in Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology, Department of Cultural, Historical-Archaeological, Socio-Anthropological, and Geographical Heritage, University of Palermo
09/2001 - 03/2004
Bachelor’s Degree in Demo-Ethno-Anthropological Heritage, Department of Cultural, Historical-Archaeological, Socio-Anthropological, and Geographical Heritage, University of Palermo
Catholic women and the writing of history: the case of Maude Petre and the narrative of modernism
European societies are increasingly confronted with the emergence of religious radicalization and faith-based interpretations of political and social issues, including women's roles in the public sphere. In this context, the study of religious worldviews becomes central, casting light on the historical roots and, possibly, future developments around the major challenges that religious faith poses to modern societies.
The objective of my current project is to increase our understanding of the relationship between the Catholic Church and modernity as seen from the perspective of a female historian through an exemplary case study: the life and work of Maude Petre. Maude Petre (1863–1942) was an English Roman Catholic nun who became a leading figure of the modernist movement and one of its first historians. During the First World War, she worked as a nurse in France, acquiring knowledge and experience that led her to a profound reflection on the significance of modern ideas of patriotism, nationalism, democracy and internationalism. She was the only woman publicly engaged in writing, through the narrative on the rise and evolution of the modernist movement, a historical account of the relationship between Christianity and modernity. Compared to other authors of her time, her historical scholarship provides a truly unique perspective on the modernist movement and on Christianity at large. Moreover, the uniqueness of a female intellectual at the outset of the 20th century, who, like Petre, reflects on issues that are decisive for our understanding of historical dynamism, provides scope for advancing and disseminating the knowledge on past and present gender inequalities.
Maude Petre's life and work are best understood against the emergence of the so-called "modern historical method and historical consciousness" in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This phenomenon brought dramatically to light the ever-present inner confrontation within Christianity between tradition and progress. The modernist movement, led by Roman Catholic intellectuals, was precisely an attempt to apply concepts and methods of modern scholarship to scripture and Catholic doctrine. Such an attempt became a source of major controversies, and ultimately modernism was officially condemned in Pope Pius X's 1907 encyclical Pascendi as "the synthesis of all heresies." 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.
In this sense, the writing of history during and in the immediate aftermath of the modernist crisis represents a special tool and a defining moment of the cultural development of such understandings. Maude Petre's historical narrative of the clash between Christianity and modernity questions and complicates any unilateral reading of the relationship between religious reform, democratic values, ecumenism, pacifism, and gender egalitarianism. This critical perspective is expressed in her most important writings, some of which, significantly, she published at the turn of the First World War. Her works include Reflections of a Non-Combatant (1915), Democracy at the Cross-Roads (1918), State Morality and a League of Nations (1919, co-authored by James Walker), and The Two Cities, or Statecraft and Idealism (1925). Petre’s 'history of modernism' can deepen our understanding of the problematic relationship between Christian faith and modern historical consciousness from the perspective of its historiographical explanation. By "Petre's 'history of modernism'" we refer not only to her properly historical work Modernism: Its Failure and Its Fruits (1918), but the comprehensive view of the history of modernism conveyed through her numerous writings and lectures, including letters and diaries. In fact, the preparation and publication of these works witness a properly historiographical debate between her and other modernist intellectuals. The main question at stake 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?
This question is still today a nodal point of the relationship between Christianity and modernity. The complexity of this relationship connects Christianity to other religious traditions struggling to define their identity amid forces urging innovation, dialogue, and development. Thus, this project’s results will also, indirectly, impact our understanding of other religious traditions, promoting in the last analysis their positive involvement in national and international counter-radicalization policies and gender equality agendas.
Research interests and expertise
- Catholic Church history (19th and early 20th centuries)
- Christianity and modernity
- History of historiography
- History of the Ecumenical Councils
- Historical perspectives on freedom of conscience and religion
- Catholic modernism
- The life and thought of John Henry Newman
Articles in peer-reviewed journals and book chapters
- “Trattati di pace e adikia nella prima fase del conflitto peloponnesiaco (432-421 a.C.)” (“Peace treaties and adikia during the first phase of the Peloponnesian War”), in: Hormos. Ricerche di Storia antica 1 n.s. (2008–2009), 73-80.
- “Teologia politica e religione popolare: il fenomeno degli atei devoti come rifunzionalizzazione post-secolare della tradizione religiosa” (“Folk religion alternative routes: the phenomenon of ‘devout atheists’ as a post-secular refunctionalization of religious tradition”), in: Enzo Pace/Luigi Berzano/Alessandro Castegnaro (eds.), Religiosità popolare nella società post-secolare. Nuovi approcci teorici e nuovi campi di ricerca, Padova, Edizioni Messaggero 2014, 453-468.
- “La mauvaise conscience” (“The concept of bad conscience”), in: Lucien Faggion/Christophe Regina (eds.), Dictionnaire de la méchanceté, Paris, Éditions Max Milo 2014, 220-1.
- “Dal purgatorio alla communio sanctorum: la dialettica spazio-luogo nell’escatologia intermedia cattolica dal Concilio di Trento al Vaticano II” (“From purgatory to the communio sanctorum: the space-place dialectic in Catholic intermediate eschatology from the Council of Trent to Vatican II”), in: Studi e Materiali di Storia delle Religioni 80 (1/2014), 300-317.
- “La liberté de conscience dans l’histoire de l’Église comme révélateur de discontinuité. Une problématisation autour du paradigme de la modernité” (“The freedom of conscience in the history of the Church as an indicator of discontinuity. A problematization around the paradigm of modernity”), in: Benoît Garnot/Bruno Lemesle (eds.), La justice entre droit et conscience du Moyen Âge à nos jours, Dijon, Éditions Universitaires de Dijon 2014, 205-214.
- “Revolutionary monasticism? Franciscanism and ecclesiastical hierarchy as a hermeneutic dilemma of contemporary Catholicism”, in: Stephen Hunt (ed.), Handbook of global contemporary Christianity. Movements, institutions, and allegiance, Leiden, Brill 2016, 165-184.
- “The Tractarian Movement” (encyclopaedia entry), in: Edward Slingerland, Database of Religious History, Vancouver, The University of British Columbia 2018.
- François Gauthier/Tuomas Martikainen (eds.), Religion in the neoliberal age. Political economy and modes of governance, Ashgate, Farnham 2013, in: Religioni e Società XXVIII, 77, settembre-dicembre 2013, 62/4.
- François Gauthier/Tuomas Martikainen (eds.), Religion in consumer society. Brands, consumers and markets, Ashgate, Farnham 2013, in: Religioni e Società XXIX, 78, gennaio-aprile 2014, 106/8.
- Maria Chiara Giorda/Stefania Palmisano/Maria Grazia Turri (eds.), Religioni ed economie. Idee ed esperienze (Religions and economies. Ideas and experiences), Mimesis, Milano 2014, in: Religioni e Società XXIX, 80, settembre-dicembre 2014, 103/4.
- Ker, Ian, Newman on Vatican II, Oxford University Press, Oxford 2014, in: Newman Studies Journal 12, Issue 1, Spring 2015, 72/3.
- Ebo, Romuald, Expérience spirituelle et conscience chez John Henry Newman (Spiritual experience and conscience in John Henry Newman), Saint-Léger Editions, Le Coudray-Macouard 2017, in: Newman Studies Journal 15, Issue 2, Winter 2018 (forthcoming publication).
- “Trattati di pace e opinione pubblica nella prima fase del conflitto peloponnesiaco (432-421 a.C.)” (“Peace treaties and public opinion during the first phase of the Peloponnesian War”), at: International Conference Guerra e diplomazia nel mondo antico. Tra istanze politiche e strategie culturali (War and diplomacy in the ancient world: political claims and cultural strategies), Dipartimento di Beni culturali e Istituto Siciliano per la Storia antica Eugenio Manni, University of Palermo, 21-22/11/2008.
- “Nomos e Chaos: Il ruolo del comandante tra esortazione religiosa e coordinamento tecnico nei secoli V e IV a.C.” (“Nomos and chaos: the commander’s role from religious exhortation to technical coordination during 5th and 4th centuries”), at: International Conference Truppe e comandanti. Tra politica, società, cultura (Troops and Commanders: politics, society, culture), Dipartimento di Beni culturali e Istituto Siciliano per la Storia antica Eugenio Manni, University of Palermo, 16-17/11/2008.
- “Social justice and economic development from A. Rosmini to J. Rawls”, at: Third annual Seminar on International History in the Contemporary Age on Development and Underdevelopment in the public Sphere. XIX and XX century, University of Padua & the Italian Society for the study of contemporary history (SSISCO), 3-5/02/2011.
- “Coscienza e storia nel personalismo di J . H. Newman. La centralità del soggetto storico nel pensiero newmaniano” (“Conscience and history in the personalism of John Henry Newman: the significance of the historical subject in Newman’s thought”), at: Rosmini Philosophical Research Institute (video-lecture), 11/05/2012.
- “Percorsi alternativi della religione popolare: il fenomeno degli ‘atei devoti’ come rifunzionalizzazione post-secolare della tradizione religiosa” (“Folk religion alternative routes: the phenomenon of ‘devout atheists’ as a post-secular refunctionalization of religious tradition”), at: International Conference La religione popolare nella società post-secolare (Folk religion in a post-secular society), University of Padua, 20/10/2012.
- “Christianisme et conscience dans la seconde moitié du XIXème siècle: la modernité comme auto-violence de la raison et de la religion chez Newman et Nietzsche” (“Christianity and consciousness in the second half of the 19th century: modernity as self-abuse of reason and religion in Newman and Nietzsche”), at: Postdoctoral seminar Religion et violence dans la modernité: approches théoriques, perspectives historiques et mutations contemporaines (Religion and violence in modernity: theoretical approaches, historical perspectives and contemporary changes), Groupe Sociétés, Religions, Laïcités, (GSRL - UMR 8582), École pratique des hautes études – CNRS, 25/04/2013.
- “La garantie juridique de la liberté de conscience dans l’histoire de l’Église catholique contemporaine. De délire (1832) à fondement de la Cité humaine (2009)” (“The legal guarantee of the freedom of conscience in the history of the contemporary Catholic Church. From ‘delirium’ (1832) to ‘foundation of the human city’ (2009)”), at: International Conference La justice entre droit et conscience du Moyen Âge à nos jours (Justice between law and conscience from the Middle Ages to the present day), Maison des Sciences de l’Homme de Dijon, Université de Bourgogne, 17-18/10/2013.
- “Human rights and humanitarianism: religious and secular views of a modern dilemma”, at: International Workshop Histories of Humanitarianism: Religious, Philanthropic, and Political Practices in the Modernizing World, German Historical Institute, Washington, D.C. & Nathan and Jeanette Miller Center for Historical Studies, University of Maryland, 7-8/03/2014.
Duquesne University, Guest Lecturer on “Global and Cultural Perspectives” and “Women and Christianity”
2009 - 2010
University of Palermo, Instructor in History