Alda Balthrop-Lewis is a Research Fellow in Religion & Theology at the Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry. Her research treats religion, ethics, and ecology, focusing on the way in which gendered assumptions sometimes blind interpreters to the political significance of ascetic practices. Her first book – Thoreau’s Religion (Cambridge, 2021) – joins a growing strand of queer and feminist interpretations of Henry David Thoreau to argue that the environmental ethic implied by Thoreau’s writing is more relational than individualist. She is working on two new projects, one about the political and economic significance of Christian monasticism, especially in the writings of Thomas Merton, and another about food ethics and feminism.
Michael D. Barbezat is a research fellow in Medieval and Early modern Studies at the Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry. His research on medieval intellectual and religious history frequently examines the ideologies and assumptions that justified and encouraged persecution during the Middle Ages. His work has examined the convergencies of discourses regarding sexuality, heresy, demonology, and theology in the writings of medieval churchmen. He is currently researching a new project on medieval attempts to speak with the dead. In his study of historical desires to speak with people in the past, he is inspired by the methodologies provided by certain strands of modern queer theory regarding trans-historical desire and spectrality or hauntology.
Sarah A Bendall is a Research Fellow at the Gender and Women’s History Research Centre in the Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences. She is a material culture historian whose work specialises in the gendered and embodied experiences of dress, as well as the roles of gender in the production, trade and consumption of global commodities and fashionable consumer goods. She is the author of several journal articles on gender and early modern dress, on early modern women’s garment production and on experimental history approaches. Her first monograph entitled Shaping Femininity is forthcoming with Bloomsbury (2021). Her current research offers critical reassessment of the global whaling trade between 1500-1800 by focusing on the fashionable goods that it produced and how gendered assumptions mediated the demand for and perceived value of these consumer goods, as well as historical scholarship on this trade. She is also developing projects on women and the garment-making trades in seventeenth-century England and experimental history and embodiment.
Megan Cassidy-Welch is the Director of the Medieval and Early Modern Studies Program in the Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry. Her research focusses on the cultural and social history of the European and Mediterranean Middle Ages, and she has published widely on medieval memory, space and violence, all of which intersect with medieval gender practices and assumptions. Her current book project on crusading violence (Amsterdam UP, 2022) questions the prominence of just war theory as an explanation for violence in crusading warfare, arguing instead for a contextualised, cultural approach to the narratives, songs, visual and material culture of conflict that shaped ideas and practices of violence. Gender informs her future project on the concept of mercy, which uses a multidisciplinary approach to show how and why the idea of ‘mercy' retains contemporary resonance and social potential.
Matthew Champion is a Senior Research Fellow in Medieval and Early Modern Studies in the Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry at ACU. Alongside his prize-winning work on the history of time, his research has examined the intersections of gender history with the history of medieval reform movements, particularly in relation to witchcraft, heresy, and inquisition. As part of his wider work on temporalities, he is currently preparing studies on the relationships between clocks and the bodies of holy women. He is a co-editor, with Joanna Bourke and Sean Brady, of the Palgrave series ‘Genders and Sexualities in History’.
Kylie Crabbe is a Senior Research Fellow in Biblical and Early Christian Studies. Her research frequently engages in questions of gender and women’s history in explorations of Jewish and early Christian sources. Her current work on impairment and disability in early Christian literature uses intersectional analysis to consider the depiction and afterlives of key early Christian figures who are portrayed with impairments. For example, the biblical character, Elizabeth, and the post-biblical daughter of the apostle Peter, later called Petronilla, provide case studies for the intersection of impairment and women’s experience. She is also working on a project about intimate partner violence in the apocryphal acts literature, which interacts with contemporary concerns. She is always interested to hear from students who are considering undertaking graduate research projects in areas that connect with her research interests. Having supervised doctoral work in feminist biblical interpretation, she would welcome conversations with students who would like to work on projects in these areas or spanning multiple areas of interest within the GWHRC.
Lexi Eikelboom is a research fellow in Religion & Theology at the Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry. Her research on the use of artistic and aesthetic categories in articulations of Christian theology includes an examination of the gendered nature of those categories. Her current research project interrogates the construction and functions of the category "form" in Christian theology. She argues that the traditional Aristotelian metaphysic operative in the background of theological work on form (particularly in Thomas Aquinas and Hans Urs von Balthasar) codes form as a masculine principle that acts on matter - a feminine principle - resulting in a third: substance. Rather than a neutral construction, this understanding has problematic political implications. The project asks how the category might be re-imagined using resources from Christian theology and art and literary criticism so that it might become a helpful tool through which to oppose the hegemony of particular (gendered) forms that govern societies.
Alison Fitchett-Climenhaga is a Research Fellow in Religion & Theology at the Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry. She specializes in the history and contemporary practice of Christianity in eastern Africa, especially among Catholic communities in Uganda and Rwanda. Her current book project explores how the ritual life and organizational cultures of two Catholic lay associations devoted to the Holy Spirit shape different styles of Catholic practice among participants. Since women predominate in these lay associations, charismatic Catholicism affords insight into Ugandan Catholic women’s devotional lives and social activism. More broadly, her work explores the relationship of religion and conflict and gendered patterns of religious practice and leadership in eastern Africa. Her research also engages women’s history in the region, including an early-stage project using the history of Rwandan Catholic women religious to explore women’s changing roles in Rwandan society since the early twentieth century.
Sarah Gador-Whyte is a research fellow in Biblical and Early Christian Studies in the Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry. As a literary and cultural historian of late antiquity, Sarah has worked on emotions history, liturgical literature and the interplay of rhetoric and theology in liturgical hymns, and interreligious conflict and dialogue. She studies women’s roles in early Christian liturgy and examines perceptions of women and their activities in late antiquity more broadly. She is currently involved in a project on late ancient night-time activities, emotions, gender and imagination.
Dr Jessica Lake is a Research Fellow at the Gender and Women’s History Research Centre in the Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences. She is an interdisciplinary scholar working at the intersection of legal, cultural and social history within common law countries during the modern period, with a particular focus upon gender relations. She is particularly interested in the ways in which doctrines regulating culture and expression, such as media law and intellectual property law, shaped women’s lives and in turn were employed by them to achieve social and economic change. Her first book, The Face that Launched a Thousand Lawsuits: The American Women Who Forged a Right to Privacy, was published by Yale University Press in 2016. It argued that women first forged a 'right to privacy' in the United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries by bringing cases to prevent and prohibit the unauthorised publication of their images. Her book was shortlisted for the W.K Hancock Prize by the Australian Historical Association. Jessica has also published widely in academic journals, edited books and newspapers, and presented at conferences in Australia, Europe and the United States. In 2016-2017, she held the Karl Loewenstein Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at Amherst College, Massachusetts. Jessica is currently engaged in two new research projects. One focuses upon the transnational history of sexual misconduct slander in common law jurisdictions during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The other investigates the ways in which the emergence of intellectual property law during the 1800s, particularly patents and trademarks, contributed to the transformation of parenting from being women’s work in the domestic sphere to the business of corporate boardrooms.
Dawn LaValle Norman is a Research Fellow in Biblical and Early Christian Studies at the Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry. Her research focuses on the literature of the 1-4th century CE, which proved to be an important period of change for women’s position in society and participation in the intellectual life. Her current project looks at the role that women play in philosophical dialogues from Plato to Augustine, tracking how male writers use their voices to speak about the emotions. She is also interested in what can be recovered about the lives of women in the ancient world and recently edited a volume on Hypatia of Alexandria, our most famous ancient female philosopher.
David Newheiser is a Research Fellow in Religion & Theology at the Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry. He is a specialist in Christian thought and contemporary theory, with a particular focus on the work of Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault. He has written on Christian debates over gender and sexuality, and he has an ongoing interest in the history of marriage as a gendered institution. His first book - Hope in a Secular Age (Cambridge, 2019) - places negative theology into conversation with feminist debates concerning the limits of critique. His current book project explores the relation between gender, colonialism, and Enlightenment rationality.
Rachel Teubner is a Research Fellow within the Medieval and Early Modern Studies programme of IRCI. Her current research explores the relationship between literary genre and Reformed thought in the letters and lyric writings of three particularly vibrant laywomen in early modern Europe: Vittoria Colonna, Marguerite of Navarre and Mary Sidney. This project, tentatively titled Evangelizing Genre, explores how women’s literary and theological production was supported and transformed through the growth of the lyric genre; through patterns of communication, such as correspondence, library-sharing and sonnet exchange; and through practices of friendship and hospitality, e.g., host-and-guest relationships fostered in salons, convents and households. She is presently completing a monograph on the conception of humility in Dante’s Commedia that analyzes the poem and its composition as a literary practice of self-examination.
Jessica O’Leary is a Research Fellow at the Gender and Women’s History Research Centre in the Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences. She is a cultural and social historian specialising in gender studies with an interest in politics, diplomacy and cultural transfer, c. 1450-1700. Her essay on power-sharing between elite couples in northern Italian courts won the Royal Studies Journal prize for best essay by a Postgraduate or Early Career researcher. Her first monograph entitled Elite Women as Diplomatic Agents in Early Modern Italy and Hungary: The Aragonese Dynastic Network, 1470-1510 is under contract with ARC Humanities Press. She has also published book chapters on the history of emotions and letter-writing and has forthcoming book chapters on cultural encounter, trade, and diplomacy in the early modern period. Currently, she is preparing a manuscript on the role of masculinities in the diplomacy and identity of elite young men during the Italian Wars. She is also developing various lines of research concerning the role of gender in cross-cultural encounters between the Catholic southern Mediterranean and sixteenth and seventeenth-century Brazil and Japan, in addition to the history of women in Colonial Brazil.