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.
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.
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.
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.