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Brenna Moore

Brenna Moore

Associate Professor

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



Brenna Moore joined the faculty at Fordham from Harvard Divinity School, where she completed her doctorate in 2008. She works in the area of modern Christianity, with a focus on Catholic intellectual and cultural history in Europe.

Brenna's teaching and research focuses on mysticism in the modern West, women and gender, theological anthropology, a movement in theology known as "ressourcement," that paved the way for Vatican II, and the various Catholic responses to modernity (especially secularism, the rise of fascism, religious and cultural difference, with particular interests in Islam and Judaism). At Fordham, she teaches introductory courses in theology, along with specialized courses including Religion in the Modern World, Spirituality and Politics in 20th Century Transatlantic Catholicism (co-taught with Michael Lee), and a graduate seminar, Medieval Modernisms. She is interested in Ignatian and Jesuit pedagogy, and is the 2014 recipient of the Fordham University faculty award for mentoring undergraduate research.

In her research, Brenna is especially drawn to the creative Catholic thinkers – theologians, poets, mystical writers, and novelists – who laid the foundations for a more 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). She has also presented research on the “spiritual resistance” to Nazism in France, and is interested in the ongoing project to unearth the contributions of lesser-known women intellectuals on the margins of modern religious thought.

Brenna is currently working on two new books. The first is Spiritual Friendship at the Edges of Modern Catholicism (1920-1960), forthcoming with the University of Chicago Press. This project explores a global but intimate community of writers and activists for whom “spiritual friendship” was both a pathway to God, and also a worldview, a scholarly and political practice that 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, and within a cosmology that included the living and the dead. Members of this network included the Islamicist Louis Massignon and the Egyptian philanthropist Mary Kahil, the scholar of medieval mysticism and Nazi resister Marie Magdeline Davy, Jacques and RaissaMaritain, the Chilean poet and Franciscan oblate, Gabriela Mistral, and the poet of the Harlem renaissance, Claude McKay. She initially published some of this material in the JAAR “Friendship and the Cultivation of Religious Sensibilities.” Secondly, along with her colleague Mary Dunn at St. Louis University, Brenna is also working on a co-edited volume, Intimacies: Religious Relationships in the Modern Christian West, forthcoming with Indiana University Press. 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 and here. She also serves on the Board of Fordham University Press and is serving as the interim Associate Director of Fordham’s Rose Hill Honors Program for 2018-2019. A Midwesterner at heart, Brenna now lives in Hastings-on-Hudson and loves gardening, activism, and exploring New York with her husband and two small kids.


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


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, forthcoming Fall 2016).

“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