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 ⇒⇒⇒



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.


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.




Wrapping Up: A Trip Up North

We’ve made it to the end of the semester! The Ramonat Scholars are working on their final projects for this semester: historiography papers. In a nutshell, a historiography paper explores what has been written about a particular topic and how it has changed over time. For our students, these papers will explore the topic that they’re interested in researching for next semester.

Ramonat students are exploring topics from Catholic mission boarding schools in the nineteenth and twentieth century, Ojibwe and Jesuit approaches to and understanding of disease, the Jesuit role in the Beaver Wars of the 17th century, Native American policy and the Board of Catholic Indian Missions, to the memory and legacy of the California missions.

To give a preview of what next semester will look like, and to give students the chance to get familiar with the resources available in our region, we took the students up to Marquette this past Saturday. Archivist Mark Thiele introduced the class to the relevant collections at Marquette, and Sister Mary Ewens discussed the process of writing the chapter she published in Crossings and Dwellings: Restored Jesuits, Women Religious, American Experience, 1814-2014. Students had the opportunity to work with the collections at Marquette from the Board of Catholic Indian Missions and other sources, and got a glimpse of the (unrelated) Tolkien collection at Marquette!

As we head towards the holiday season, I leave you with this:

The Huron Carol was written around 1642, by Jesuit missionary Jean de Brébeuf. In the text, he tries to combine Catholic religious beliefs with Huron imagery, and it is an interesting example of the syncretism sometimes present in missionary work.