Fordham University            The Jesuit University of New York

John C. Seitz

Assistant Professor
Lincoln Center 916E
(212) 636-6398

Ph.D. - Harvard University 

M.T.S. - Harvard University
B.A. - University of Colorado

Research Interests
American Religious History, American Catholic Studies, Theory and Method in the Study of Religion

Seitz’s particular work springs from an interest in the ways the study of religion, and in particular the study of Catholics, enhances our ability to understand the American past and present. He pursues this interest both historically and anthropologically.

In 2011 Seitz published No Closure: Catholic Practice and Boston’s Parish Shutdowns (Harvard Univ. Press). The book seeks to explain the anxieties and upheaval around a recent wave of church closings in Boston. The closings threw Catholics into uneasy reengagement with the meanings of sacrifice and sacred presence as these have changed since the 1960s. The shutdowns, which are not limited to the Boston Archdiocese, also provoked reflection on the meanings of home, community, and belonging in post-war America.

His current projects include research on the lived history of Vatican II in the Archdiocese of Boston and a study of U.S. Catholics and “battle fatigue” during and after the Second World War.

Prof. Seitz grew up and attended college in Boulder, Colorado. After earning a B.A. in Religious Studies at the University of Colorado in Boulder, he went on to earn an M.T.S. at Harvard Divinity School and then a Ph.D. in 2008 from Harvard University’s Committee on the Study of Religion.

This training has encouraged him to seek to understand religions with specific attention to religious practice, broadly-construed. This means he is interested in enriching what we can say about religions by directing attention to sources that illuminate the interplay, in actual lives, of text and ritual, design and place, rule and improvisation, public and private, mind and body.

He carries out this work in Fordham’s theology department, in his role as Associate Director for Lincoln Center of the Curran Center for American Catholic Studies, and as co-editor of a series with Fordham University Press entitled Catholic Practice in North America.

John was recently selected as one of ten Young Scholars in American Religion for 2013-2015. Supported by the Lilly Endowment and based at the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis, the program promotes innovation both in research and teaching, requiring each scholar to produce a scholarly article and a course syllabus. The syllabi are made available on the Center's website.

Selected Publications
“An Emotional History of Vatican II: Relationships at St. John’s Seminary, Boston 1959-1971” in The Lived History of Vatican II ed. Timothy Matovina, Kathleen Sprows Cummings, and Robert A. Orsi (forthcoming, 2015).

“The Mass Clock and the Spy: The Catholicization of the Second World War” (forthcoming Church History: Studies in Christianity and Culture, December 2014)

“Introduction” for “Symposium: The Future of American Catholic Studies,” guest editor, John C. Seitz American Catholic Studies (forthcoming, Fall 2014)

No Closure: Catholic Practice and Boston’s Parish Shutdowns
(Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press, 2011).

“Keep Research Weird: Psychoanalytic Techniques and Fieldwork in the Study of Religion” in Method and Theory in the Study of Religion, Volume 25, Issue 1 (2013), pp. 26-52.

“Perfect Priests and their Sacrificial Lambs,” Review of Marie Keenan, Child Sexual Abuse and the Catholic Church: Gender, Power, and Organizational Culture for National Catholic Reporter(November 21, 2012).

Review of Closing Chapters: Urban Change, Religious Reform, and the Decline of Youngstown’s Catholic Elementary Schools, 1960-2006 by Thomas G. Welsh (Lexington Books, 2012) for American Catholic Studies: Journal of the American Catholic Historical Society (Winter 2013).

Review of Faithful Revolution: How Voice of the Faithful is Changing the Church by Tricia C. Bruce (Oxford University Press, 2011) for American Catholic Studies: Journal of the American Catholic Historical Society 123:1 (Spring 2012), p. 70-72.

Review of Catholic Culture in the U.S.A.: In and Out of Church by John Portmann (Continuum, 2010) in Theological Studies

"Placeholders: Catholic Tradition and Faith to the Parish" Commonweal, September 2, 2013.

FALL 2014

THEO 1000-L03, L05: Faith & Critical Reason
THEO 3834-L01: Christian Thought and Practice III

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