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Brenna Moore

Brenna Moore, Theology, Faculty

 

Professor

Department of Theology
Rose Hill Campus
441 East Fordham Road
Bronx, New York 10458

Email: brmoore@fordham.edu

Biography

Brenna Moore is a specialist in the area of modern Christianity, with a focus on Catholic intellectual and cultural history in Europe. She is particularly interested in questions concerning women, gender and religion; mysticism and spirituality; a movement in theology known as ressourcement; and the various Catholic responses to modernity (especially secularism, the rise of fascism, religious and cultural difference, with interests in Islam and Judaism).

She is most recently the author of Kindred Spirits: Friendship and Resistance at the Edges of Modern Catholicism (University of Chicago Press, 2021). This project explores a remarkable network of Catholic historians, theologians, poets, and activists who pushed against both the far-right surge in interwar Europe and the secularizing tendencies of the leftist movements active in the early to mid-twentieth century. For this community, “spiritual friendship” was both a pathway to God, and also a worldview they sensed was uniquely capable of engaging the social and political crises of the mid-century. Friendships took place not only in face-to-face settings, but also in other modes of consciousness including memory, dreams, and imagination. Members of this network included the Islamicist Louis Massignon and the Egyptian philanthropist Mary Kahil, the scholar of medieval mysticism and Nazi resister Marie Magdeleine Davy, Jacques and Raïssa Maritain, the Chilean poet and Franciscan oblate, Gabriela Mistral, and the poet of the Harlem renaissance, Claude McKay. 

In her research, Brenna is especially drawn to the creative religious thinkers – theologians, poets, mystical writers, and novelists – who engaged in imaginative, humane, and cosmopolitan response to the challenges of the twentieth century. She’s published on figures like the novelist Léon Bloy, the mystic and poet Raïssa Maritain and her husband, the philosopher Jacques Maritain, and the Jesuit historians of spirituality, Henri de Lubac and Michel de Certeau. She is the author of Sacred Dread: Raïssa Maritain, the Allure of Suffering, and the French Catholic Revival, 1905-1945 (University of Notre Dame Press, 2013) and co-editor, with Mary Dunn, of the volume Religious Intimacies: Intersubectivity in the Modern Christian West (Indiana University Press, 2020). She has also presented research on the resistance to Nazism in France, and has published short pieces on the religious imagination of artists like Sinéad O'Connor and Beyoncé, and on exhibits at the MET.  Brenna also occasionally contributes to contemporary conversations about religion and modernity in forums such as the Immanent Frame and Contending Modernities (some examples are  here and here).

Brenna also serves on the Board of Directors of LSA Family Health Service, a community-based organization founded by the Little Sisters of the Assumption in 1958, that aims to empower families and children in East Harlem. She is currently working on an interdisciplinary research project telling the story of LSA’s extraordinary history and its impact in the community. In 2020, Brenna was elected to serve as the Vice President of the American Catholic Historical Association, and will serve as President in 2022. She recently served on the editorial board of Fordham University Press.

At Fordham, Brenna teaches introductory courses in theology, seminars for majors, and graduate course. She loves helping students think about what it means to major in the humanities, is interested in Ignatian and Jesuit pedagogy, and is the 2014 recipient of the Fordham University faculty award for mentoring undergraduate research. A Midwesterner at heart, Brenna now lives in Hastings-on-Hudson and loves gardening, serving her community, and taking adventures with her family.

Education

BA, University of Colorado (summa cum laude)

MDiv, Harvard Divinity School (Theology)

ThD, Harvard Divinity School (History of Christianity; Religion and Society)

Research Interests

Intellectual-cultural history of religion in Europe

Modern Catholic thought (with special interests in France)

Ressourcement (turn to the sources)

Religious experience and mysticism

Gender and religion

Modernity and religion

Theological anthropology

Publications

(Selected List)

Kindred Spirits: Friendship and Resistance at the Edges of Modern Catholicism (University of Chicago Press, 2021)

Co-Editor, with Mary Dunn, Intimacies: Intersubjectivity and the Modern Christian West (Indiana University Press, 2020)

Sacred Dread: Raïssa Maritain, the Allure of Suffering, and the French Catholic Revival, 1905-1944 (University of Notre Dame Press, January 2013).

“Gold Fillings Into Crocodiles’ Teeth: Christian Fear, Imagination, and Politics in the Literature of Léon Bloy,” ed. Ann Astell, Saving Fear: The History of Fear in Christianity (University of Notre Dame Press, 2017).

“Out of the Shadows: Raïssa Maritain on Visibility and Violence,” in The Young Jacques Maritain: Bergson, Raïssa and Friends ed. Travis Dumsday (Catholic University Press of America, forthcoming Spring 2016).

“Friendship and the Cultivation of Religious Sensibilities,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 83:2 (June 2015), 437-463.

“To Entwine the Living and the Dead: Women, War, and Ressourcement, 1940-1950,” in God's Mirror: Renewal and Engagement in French Catholic Intellectual Culture in the Mid-Twentieth Century ed. Toby Garfitt and Katherine Davies (Fordham University Press, 2014).

“Beyond the Protestant-Catholic Divide: A Review Essay of Brad Gregory’s The Unintended Reformation: How a Religious Revolution Secularized Society,” The Immanent Frame November 26, 2013.

“Cracks in the Theology of Contempt: The French Roots of Nostra Aetate,” (co-author with Professor Richard Crane) Studies in Christian-Jewish Relations 8:1 (2013), 1-28.

“Philosemitism under a Darkening Sky: Jews and Judaism in the French Catholic Revival (1900-1940),” Catholic Historical Review 99:2 (2013), 262-297.

“How to Awaken the Dead: Michel de Certeau, Henri de Lubac, and the Instabilities Between the Past and Present” Spiritus: A Journal of Christian Spirituality 3:12 (2012), 172-179.

“Suffering Femininity in French Catholic History: Raïssa Maritain (1883-1960) and Léon Bloy (1846-1917),” Spiritus: A Journal of Christian Spirituality 1:9 (2009), 46-68