Exploring Catholic Chicago

In the 1880s, at the height of Chicago’s labor movement, 78 percent of its workers were immigrants. Historian Heath W. Carter argues in Union Made that Chicago’s Catholic immigrant workers mobilized their faith in support of unions and protecting the dignity of labor. While the archdiocese remained critical of labor radicalism, working class communities were “hotbeds of alternative Christianities” in the late nineteenth century according to Carter. Last week, the Ramonat Scholars read this and other histories of Catholics’ diverse union and political participation from the nineteenth century to the present.

The contributions of Catholic workers in Chicago’s past can still be appreciated in the city’s landscape through parks, monuments, union offices, ethnic parishes, and schools. The Ramonat Scholars embarked on an urban scavenger hunt last week to explore how and where Catholics left their mark on Chicago.

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Mark Neuhengen and Jenna Ludwig at the statue of James Connolly

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Nikolas Callas at the Chicago Cultural Center

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Sarah Eden at the Haymarket Memorial

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Alice Gordon and Spencer Bailey at the recreated Chicago Board of Trade Room

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Laura Enachescu at the Pullman Museum

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Sydney Williams at Union Park

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Colette Cooney at the Plumbers Union

To read more about the Ramonat Scholars’ urban explorations, check out their newest blog post on the righthand tool bar ⇒⇒⇒

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How do Catholics Vote?

What political issues are most important to American Catholics? Have Catholic political values changed over time and if so, why? Is there such thing as a “Catholic vote”?

The Ramonat Scholars have devoted their first two weeks of reading and class discussion to these important questions, which they discuss in their blogs on the righthand tool bar ⇒⇒⇒

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PHOTO BY: STEVE FONTANINI / LOS ANGELES TIMES

The scholars largely agree that American Catholics are united in faith but divided on a range of political issues including immigration, gun control, and abortion. Catholic voters also care about education, unions, and the welfare state but may not vote consistently in these areas either. While a homogeneous “Catholic vote” may not exist because of the diversity of American Catholics themselves, Amy Al-Salaita suggested in class that a shared respect for the dignity of human life may influence Catholic political values.

The emphasis on dignity of life and labor has contributed to the active role of Catholics in the American labor movement since the 1880s. This week, Sarah Eden, Laura Enachescu, Sam Jaros, Kristin Morrison, and Sydney Williams reflect on the relationship between Catholics and unions in their blogs.

Welcome to the Fall 2018 Seminar!

Welcome to the Fall 2018 Ramonat Seminar in American Catholic History and Culture! Visit the about page to learn more about this year’s Ramonat Seminar, which investigates  how Catholics and Catholicism shaped American politics in the twentieth century. The Fall and Spring syllabi are now online. We’re looking forward to a great year!

Follow this site for updates on Ramonat-related events and to learn more about what the Ramonat Scholars are reading, researching, and writing over the next academic year.

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Dominican Sisters of Hope in Washington D.C., 1968.

Ramonat Seminar Final Colloquium

This past Saturday, we celebrated the end of the school year with a colloquium. Scholars presented their research and fielded questions from the audience, then they and their guests joined Susan Ramonat, Dr. Karamanski, and Marie in a celebratory toast! Finally, this year’s winner of the Susan Ramonat Award for Scholarly Excellence was announced–congratulations to Garrett Gutierrez, this year’s winner!

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Movie Night: Mission

On Monday, March 26, at 5 pm, the Ramonat Scholars will gather for a screening of the 1986 film Mission, starring Robert DiNero and Jeremy Irons. The film explores the experience of eighteenth-century Spanish Jesuit missionaries in South America.

Save the Date!

Save the date for an exciting upcoming lectures!

Monday, January 30: Dr. Andreas Motsch, “Early Ethnography in New France.” 4 pm, Cuneo 116.

Joseph-François Lafitau (1681-1746)  was a Jesuit missionary in New France who discovered American ginseng and who wrote an extensive comparison of the customs of Native Americans to those of the people of antiquity. He did so in order to prove a key theological point, the common origin of mankind in biblical genesis. While his theological objectives reduce his ethnographic descriptions to means to an end, it is the ethnographic component which has kept the work from being forgotten. Dr. Motsch’s talk will sketch the relation between theology, mission and ethnography and highlight the wealth of ethnographic insights the work still holds in text and image.