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New Women of the Old Faith : Gender and American Catholicism in the Progressive Era - Kathleen Sprows Cummings

New Women of the Old Faith

Gender and American Catholicism in the Progressive Era

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Published: 30th August 2010
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American Catholic women rarely surface as protagonists in histories of the United States. Offering a new perspective, Kathleen Sprows Cummings places Catholic women at the forefront of two defining developments of the Progressive Era: the emergence of the "New Woman" and Catholics' struggle to define their place in American culture.Cummings highlights four women: Chicago-based journalist Margaret Buchanan Sullivan; Sister Julia McGroarty, SND, founder of Trinity College in Washington, D.C., one of the first Catholic women's colleges; Philadelphia educator Sister Assisium McEvoy, SSJ; and Katherine Eleanor Conway, a Boston editor, public figure, and antisuffragist. Cummings uses each woman's story to explore how debates over Catholic identity were intertwined with the renegotiation of American gender roles. By examining female power within Catholic religious communities and organizations, she challenges the widespread assumption that women who were faithful members of a patriarchal church were incapable of pathbreaking work on behalf of women.Cummings emphasizes, though, that her subjects understood themselves to be far more marginalized as Catholics than they were as women. Whatever opportunities arose for American women in the early twentieth century, these Catholics pursued them not as "New Women" but as daughters of the "Old Faith." Cummings's analysis makes a strong argument for the need to devote more attention to religious identity as a factor in interpreting women's lives.

Makes a major contribution to women's history by taking seriously religion as a category of analysis for understanding Progressive Era reform impulses. . . . More than a study of Catholic reformers, this book helps us understand why many religious women rejected feminism and yet acted as feminists.--Church History


An enjoyable read. . . . Cummings has exhausted scores of manuscript collections, newspapers, and secondary sources to construct a lively narrative that enhances our understanding of American women during the Progressive Era.--Journal of American History


Exquisitely written. . . .A ground-breaking contribution to gender studies. . . . Will capture the interest of both armchair and professional historians.--Annals of Iowa


Elegantly written. . . . This volume takes us to places we have never been before.--American Catholic Studies


This well-written and finely nuanced book makes an important contribution to scholarship in Catholic history and American women's history.--The Catholic Historical Review


A timely, enlightening book--required reading for those who wish to understand the religious landscape of the Progressive Era and the historical background of today's culture wars. Highly recommended.--Choice


Richly diversified primary research conducted in numerous archives, buttressed by a wealth of secondary literature. . . . Cummings's insightful assessment of the religious vision and personal goals of women standing on shifting Catholic ground proves one of the major strengths of her book. . . . There is much here for those interested in America's heartland. . . . A readable and original contribution to the literature of Catholic womanhood, professed and secular. . . . Highly recommended to scholars of gender and religion.--Indiana Magazine of History


An important contribution. . . . Cummings's strategy of explicating the dual identity of American Catholic women through the lives of four 'exceptional' women works exceedingly well. She expertly weaves between biography and social history, expanding her analysis outward onto broad issues. . . . With subtlety, insight, and detailed research, Cummings elucidates religion and gender in the Progressive Era by considering American Catholic women as important historical agents.--Journal of Religion


Fascinating. . . . Will assuredly appeal to anyone interested in the story of American Catholicism and the growth of the American immigrant church. . . . A fresh perspective on the struggles [of] Catholic women.--America


Clear prose and sophisticated analysis. . . . Cummings' careful analysis encourages historians of women to consider the limits of the Second-Wave narrative.--Reviews in American History


An important contribution. . . . With subtlety, insight, and detailed research, Cummings elucidates religion and gender in the Progressive Era by considering American Catholic women as important historical agents.--Journal of Religion

Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Introductionp. 1
Chiefly among Women: The Old Faith, the New Woman, and the Creation of a Usable Pastp. 17
Enlarging Our Lives: Higher Education, Americanism, and Trinity College for Catholic Womenp. 59
The Wageless Work of Paradise: Catholic Sisters, Professionalization, and the School Questionp. 101
The Morbid Consciousness of Womanhood: Catholicism, Antisuffrage, and the Limits of Sisterhoodp. 157
Notesp. 197
Bibliographyp. 239
Indexp. 263
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780807871522
ISBN-10: 0807871524
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 296
Published: 30th August 2010
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.5 x 15.6  x 2.03
Weight (kg): 0.43
Edition Type: New edition