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.