University of Notre Dame

Modern European Catholicism

Course Number: HIST 13184-5
Instructor: Sarah Shortall

This university seminar introduces students to the history of Catholicism in modern Europe. It examines how European Catholics confronted the challenges of modernity—from liberal democracy and nationalism; to capitalism and modern science; to new political ideologies such as fascism and communism. We will examine not only how these encounters transformed the Church, but also how Catholicism itself has shaped modern European politics and culture. Topics to be explored include: the nineteenth-century “culture wars,” popular devotions and pilgrimages, gender and the “feminization” of religion, the relationship between the Church and colonialism, modern Catholic art and literature, the Church’s response to the Holocaust, Cold-War Catholicism, and the challenge of secularization. Readings are drawn from a range of primary sources—including novels, speeches, Church documents, works of art, and cartoons—as well as works by historians.