Research Ideas


A chapel in Windsor, Ontario. Courtesy of a Vogue article.

Last year, I did a research project on 18thcentury etiquette books. I wanted to somehow incorporate my research into this seminar, but I was not sure exactly how to incorporate it to Catholics in Politics. Also, throughout the last semester, learning more about the Catholic Church brought forward a lot of my own disagreements with the values of the Church. I know I am not the only one who has disagreements and struggles with Catholic views throughout history. On a topic similar to etiquette and conduct, I hope to explore a Catholic women’s struggle to conform to religious expectations while following current and evolving societal expectations.

With this topic, I would possibly explore how Catholic women were depicted in the religion and to the outside world throughout time—i.e. too modest, charitable, rebellious. Additionally, I would research how Catholic women would interact with the public through an outright religious influence, or if they interact outside of the grasps of the Church—did they receive direct support and instruction from the Church or did they act on their own? For instance, evaluating different responses to Humane Vitae and civil rights movements of the 20thcentury would demonstrate women involvement and responses to pivotal changes in society and the Catholic doctrine. On the other hand, earlier looks into the arrivals of Catholic nuns to the United States would show the roots and intentions of their first interactions with the public and charity. I would also like to look into questions and perceptions of modesty toward Catholic women.

I have found a few possible outside readings to correspond with narrowing down a specific research question. Among them is a decree from Pope Pius XI on modesty and “The Marylike Standards for Modesty in Dress,” and a collection of interviews in a 2016 book titled Catholic Women Confront Their Church: Stories of Hurt and Hope. These publications would help navigate my research topic into viable sources to complete my project.


The cover for Celia Vegg Wexler’s collection of stories.

I am looking forward to what the next semester will bring. Although my topics at this time are broader, I cannot wait to see my final product—even if it ends up completely different than the ideas above. I came into this course with little knowledge of Catholicism, but I am excited to further my knowledge and look into specific topics of interest.


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