Syllabus – Fall


Mondays and Wednesdays
5pm – 615pm in Mundelein 203

Professor: Elizabeth Tandy Shermer
Office: 473 Crown Center
Office Hours: Monday 3-4:30pm (or by appointment)

Teaching Assistant: Ruby Oram
Office: 334E Crown Center
Office Hours: Wednesday 3-4:30 pm (or by appointment)


The 2018-2019 academic year is a perfect moment to offer a Ramonat Seminar focused on American Politics and how Catholics and Catholicism shaped twentieth-century politics at the local, state, and federal levels. There will be a midterm election and a governor’s race in Fall 2018 as well as a Chicago mayoral election in Spring 2019.  Plus, the Hank Center will be holding a series of events during the Fall semester to reflect on the importance of 1968 globally; why that year roiled politics, society, and Catholicism in America; and why 1968 and 2018 seem so eerily similar.

In order for this seminar to take full advantage of events happing at Loyola and around town, the Fall semester will proceed thematically instead of chronologically. Readings and speakers will still explore how Catholics shaped Chicago’s ward politics from the Progressive Era through the two Daley machines, how Catholics across Illinois brought their faith and sensibilities to the legislature, and how Catholics and Catholicism factored in the transformation of American politics.  A major feature of this course will accordingly be the hostility Catholics, their parishes, and their elected representatives faced to highlight Catholics’ struggle to attain voting rights, secure protection against religious discrimination at home and at work, and be fully recognized as a vital, legitimate part of the American polity. An examination of twentieth-century local, state, and national politics will show students how the face of American Catholicism dramatically changed from the Irish and Italian immigrants to the Latino and South Asian immigrants who have recently won elected office through the Republican and Democratic parties.

For 2018-19, the Ramonat Seminar is cross-listed with the following departments and programs: Political Science, Theology, Religious Studies, Urban Studies, Sociolegal Studies, and Catholic Studies.


There are no textbooks to buy for this course. Your readings will instead be available electronically through Sakai.


The Fall semester is both writing and reading intensive in order to prepare students to write a substantial and significant research paper in the Spring semester. Students must bring reading materials to class. Though I will lecture at times (especially on Mondays), class sessions will also have both small and large group discussions. Most weeks will also have blogging assignments, which, unless otherwise noted, should be posted on Sunday evenings following a given week’s readings. You must write 12 blogs over the course of the semester, all in the first person. Ten of these assignments are mandatory. Of the four optional blogs, you must choose two to write. The final assignment due this semester will be a film paper. Students must pick one of the films shown on campus as a part of the Hank Center’s 1968 film series and write a paper, in the third person, about how it reflects a theme in Fall semester readings and/or discussions. Over Winter Break, students should think hard about their Spring projects and come prepared with ideas when we reconvene in January.

On November 5th, the class will be meeting with Women & Leadership archivists and the history department’s librarians to discuss strategies to find research materials for this assignment, later blog assignments, and the Spring semester’s research paper. We will also have office hours in lieu of class on November 19th to discuss the film paper as well as ideas for Spring semester projects.

Please be in touch and provide documentation if you are a student with a disability who may have difficulty meeting the course requirements.


Students can only miss two class sessions but are advised not to miss the November 5th session with librarians. This course also has several field trips and off-campus assignments, which students must do. Note: We sometimes won’t formally meet if there are significant time commitments outside the classroom. Students can individually ask about alternative assignments to the off-campus assignments if they have can’t attend but must do so well in advance and provide documentation.


60% – Blogs (5pts each, must do 12 blogs, can skip two of the optional blogs)
10% – Film Paper (Final) Assignment
30% – Class Participation

I reserve the right to make changes to the syllabus.


By the end of the semester students should be able to do the following: a) have an understanding and appreciation of American Catholics’ complex place in American political history; b) critique scholarly analysis by professional historians and anthropologists; c) find both primary and secondary sources using the library’s resources; d) write a short research paper; e) have an idea for a workable research paper.


Week 1: Course Introductions and How Catholics Vote

27 August: Course Introductions
29 August: The American Catholic Vote: Was it and is it unique?

  • Millies, Good Intentions, Introduction & Chapter 1
  • Copeland, Another Peek Inside the Brain of the Electorate
  • Wang and Gold, “Your Brain’s Secret Ballot”
  • Dionne, “There is No Catholic Vote…”
  • NPR, “Losing Our Religion”

*First Blog (mandatory): Set up your blog and write a short profile that explains your interest in the course. Your first blog post should explain what political issues you think are the most important today, what matters were important in the past, and how you think Catholics have voted on those issues in the past and today.

Week 2: Catholic Unions & Catholic Politics

3 September: NO CLASS – LABOR DAY
5 September: The Politics of Working Catholics

  • Heath W. Carter, “‘With the Prophets of Old’”
  • Fones-Wolf, “Conversion at Bethlehem”
  • Cowie, “Nixon’s Class Struggle”
  • Chavez, Good Friday Letter,
  • Desmond, “Should Catholics Back Public Sector Unions?”
  • Gehring, “Francis Revives the Workers’ Church”

*Second Blog (optional): What struck you about Catholics’ concerns about their work life in the past and today? Do you share any of their opinions about wages, benefits, working conditions, and rights on the job?

Week 3: Catholics & the Politics of Citizenship

10 September: What do you mean Catholics weren’t white?

  • Breidenbach, “Conciliarism and the American Founding”
  • Barrett, Introduction to The Irish Way
  • McCartin, “The Waning of the ‘Catholic Other’ and Catholicism in American Life after 1965”
  • Lipka, “A Closer Look at Catholics Today”
  • Hollinger, “Obama, Instability of Colorlines, and a Postethnic Future”

12 September: No Formal Class Meeting Because of Off-Campus Assignments. Instead, on your own time, complete the Chicago Scavenger Hunt (details on Sakai)

*Third Blog (mandatory): Given what you read this week, why and to what extent do you think Catholics have ever been treated as full citizens? What seems to have changed or stayed the same since the Founding? Blogs should draw on readings as well as your observations of Chicago’s past and present on the Chicago Scavenger Hunt. Include pictures from your off-campus adventures!

Week 4: Catholics Fighting & Resisting Wars (Special Week of Hank Center Programming)

17 September: Catholics in Wars at Home and Abroad

  • McGreevy, “Catholic Freedom and the Civil War”
  • Rowland, “Irish-American Catholics and the quest for respectability…”
  • Fleeger, “ ‘Forget All Differences…’ ”
  • Au, “American Catholics and the Dilemma of War”

18 September: Catholic War Resisters Event (7 pm in McCormick Lounge)

19 September: No Formal Class Meeting. Students should instead meet at Damen Cinema to view Hagedorn’s documentary on Catholic war resisters, Seeking Shelter (1st 1968 Film Series Screening) and, on their own time, visit the art exhibit that inspired Seeking Shelter in Damen Fireplace.

20 September: Berrigan Week Symposium on Catholic Resistance Movements, (4-6pm in Palm Court), followed by the Poetry & Music of Protest Reception (6:30pm in Piper Hall  – food will be served served!)

*Fourth Blog (mandatory): How did the poetry, music, and exhibit exemplify Catholics complicated relationship to the politics of war that you read about on Monday. Please include pictures along with your reflections!

Week 5: Catholics & the Politics of Immigration

24 September: A Global Church in an Increasing Global Nation

  • González, “Interethnic Catholicism…”
  • Dumenil, “The Tribal Twenties”
  • Chincilla, “The Sanctuary Movement and Central American Activism in Los Angeles”
  • Phan, “Where We Came From…”
  • “Catholic Bishops are Quick to Attack…”

26 September: 1920s Immigration Debates (Class will end at 5:45pm to accommodate the film screening)

  • “Who Was Shut Out?”
  • “An ‘Un-American Bill’ ”
  • “Shut the Door”
  • “Warning Against the ‘Roman Catholic Party’ ”
  • “White Sheets in Washington, D.C.”

1968 Film Series, Screening 1: Green Berets (6-9pm in Damen Cinema)

*Fifth Blog (optional): As historians, how should we reconcile González’s and Dumenil’s characterizations of the 1920s against the documents from that era assigned for Thursday’s class? Given the rest of the week’s readings and what you have observed in your lifetimes, how have the dynamics between Catholics, their politics, and the immigration policy seemed to have changed and/or stayed the same?

Week 6: Catholics Confront Race & Racism

30 September: Field Trip to Saint Sabina. We will meet at the Loyola Red Line stop at 915am. Please stay for lunch (My treat at a local, beloved breakfast spot!)

1 October: Catholics and the Crusades for Liberation, Freedom, and Equality

  • John McGreevy, “Catholicism, Slavery, and the Cause of Liberty”
  • McGreevy, “Racial Justice and the People of God”
  • DeLong, “Change from the Inside Out”
  • Issel and Wold, “Catholics and the Campaign for Racial Justice…”
  • Studs Terkel interwiew with John McDermott and Sister Mary Peters
  • Osnos, “Father Mike”
  • Hinton & Ramos, “Anti-Violence Protestors Shut Down Inbound Dan Ryan”

2 October: 3rd Screening in the 1968 Film Series, Battle of Algiers (6-9pm in Damen Cinema)

3 October: No Formal Class Meeting Because of Off-Campus Assignments

*Sixth Blog (mandatory): How did what you observed first hand at Saint Sabina reflect Catholics’ complicated role in civil rights politics?

Week 7: Gendering American Catholics & Their Politics

8 October: FALL BREAK

10 October: An Intersectional Church? (Class will end at 5:45pm for film screening)

  • Hoy, “The Journey Out”
  • Brosnan, “Public Presence, Public Silence”
  • Flippen, “Carter, Catholics, and the Politics of Family”

4th Screening in the 1968 Film Series: Where Angels Go Trouble Follows (6-9pm in Damen Cinema)

Seventh Blog (optional): How should we parse the difference between the assumptions about and the realities of women’s participation in the Catholic Church and American politics? This reflection should draw on the women whom you encountered in this week’s readings as well as readings and events in previous weeks.

Week 8: Have Catholic Parishes and Politics Been as Local as the Rest of America?

13-14 October: Open House Chicago

15 October: Local(?) Catholic Politics

  • “All Politics is Local”
  • Skerrett, et al., “What has made Chicago Catholicism Distinctive?”
  • Buenker, “Dynamics of Chicago Ethnic Politics”
  • Kennedy, “Chicago’s Irish Americans and the Candidacies of Franklin D. Roosevelt”
  • “Daley’s City” in Pacyga’s Chicago
  • Merton, “Rethinking the Politics of White Ethnicity in 1970s America

17 October: No Formal Class Meeting Because of Off-Campus Assignments (Open House Chicago!)

Eighth Blog (mandatory): Given the sites that you visited during the Open House weekend, this week’s primary and secondary readings, and what you’ve read for previous weeks, do you think Catholic politics and faith was and remains local? Consider what you have learned about efforts to build parishes for immigrants, organize unions, influence politics, and grapple with Vatican II changes. Please include pictures!

Week 9: Radical Catholics & Catholic Radicalism

22 October: Radical Catholics & Catholic Radicalism (Session will end at 545pm for screening)

  • Mollin, “Communities of Resistance”
  • McKanan, “The Family, The Gospel, and the Catholic Worker”
  • Barrett, “The Blessed Virgin Made Me a Socialist Historian”

5th Screening in the 1968 Film Series: Medium Cool(6-9pm in Damen Cinema)

24 October: No Formal Class Meeting. Students instead need to attend the Global ’68 Symposium events today take pictures (include selfies) from this week’s 1968 events.

Global 1968 Symposium Event Schedule (All in McCormick Lounge)

24 October:
Resistance & Riots; Murders & Martyrs: Violence in America (4:30-6pm)
Catholicism at a Crossroads (6:30-8pm) – must attend!

25 October:
Chicago in 1968 (2:30-4pm)
Global Struggles for Justice (4:15-5:45pm)
Dinner for Ramonat Scholars and Conference Presenters (6:00-7:00pm, Cuneo 425)
Keynote Address: Julien Bourg, The Times and Spaces of 1968 (7:30-8:30pm)

26 October:
Folk & Hip Hop Mass in the East Quad (noon)
Mexico in 1968 (1-2:30pm)
1968 & 2018: Years of the Student (3-4:30pm)

Ninth Blog (mandatory): What struck you about Catholic politics, worldwide and in America, at this week’s events on 1968? Your answer must explain how what you learned and observed fits with ongoing class discussions and readings about how Catholic politics in Chicago and the U.S. has changed or stayed the same over time, and what has and has not made Catholic politics unique in Chicago and the U.S. Please include pictures!

Week 10: Catholics, Conservatives, and the Courts

29 October: Conservative Catholics & Catholic Conservatism

  • Allitt, “American Catholics and the New Conservatism of the 1950s”
  • Doody, Excerpts from Detroit’s Cold War
  • Mills, “Parochiad and the Abortion Decisions”
  • Blake, “God Save This Honorable Court”
  • Studs Terkel Interview with Father John O’Brien about Humanae Vitae

30 October: Field-Trip, Seminary Co-Op Bookstore for Millies Book Event, “Good Intentions: A History of Catholic Voters’ Road from Roe to Trump.” We will meet at the Loyola Red Line stop at 4:15pm. Please stay for dinner (My treat at a local, beloved spot!)

31 October: No Formal Class Meeting Because of Off-Campus Assignments

Tenth Blog (mandatory): Given what you have read, listened, and observed in this previous weeks, how have you come to understand how Catholic vote now and in the past and how Catholics govern now and in the past? Do you agree with scholars’ interpretation of primary sources that you have encountered?

Week 11: Running for Office

5 November: Meet at the Women & Leadership Archives to go over research strategies and tutorials. This class session may go until 6:45pm.

  • Optional event: “After the Spectacle: The Kavanaugh Hearings and the Future of the Supreme Court”, 4pm, 4th Floor of Information Commons. Must meet at the Women and Leadership Archive by 5pm.

7 November: No formal class meeting. Students must instead attend Behind the Tweets: Midterm Postmortem Roundtable (6-9pm in Damen Cinema)

Eleventh Blog (mandatory): Drawing on the roundtable, this semester’s readings, and other news sources that you find on your own, what role do you think the Catholic vote had in this year’s midterm? Did the Catholic vote follow experts’ predictions? Did the Catholic vote seem to change or stay the same?

Week 12: Running for Office II

12 November: When did Catholics Politics Become National?

  • “Should a Catholic Be President”
  • Smith’s Acceptance Speech
  • Sarbaugh, “Champion or Betrayer of His Own Kind?”
  • Grey et al., “Camelot Only Comes But Once?”
  • “Faith of Eugene McCarthy”
  • Goodstein, “Kerry, Candidate and Catholic”
  • Paulson, “Jeb Bush, Twenty Years after Conversion…”
  • Shaw, “How Kane and Pence Reflect Problems in the Church”
  • Schlumpf, “Progressive Catholics…”

14 November: Covering Catholic Candidates
Students will supply the primary sources using the newspaper databases via their blogs

Twelfth Blog (mandatory, due 13th November by 11:59pm): Use the library’s historical databases to find your own historical coverage of Smith’s, JFK’s, RFK’s, and McCarthy’s presidential campaigns. Post at least one to your blog, describe how or if the coverage reflected any of the preconceptions and/or hostility toward American Catholics and their politics that we have discussed this semester. Be prepared to share your source in class on November 14th!

Week 13: Give Thanks

19 November: No Formal Class Meeting. Students will instead sign-up for individual meetings to discuss the film paper and Spring semester project ideas.


Week 14: Catholics & the Politics of Social Welfare

26 November: Varieties of Catholic Social Welfare

  • James Gilbert, “Twin Cities/Two Chicago’s”
  • McGreevy, “The Social Question”
  • Meyerson, “God and the New Deal”
  • Hirsch, “Massive Resistance in the Urban North”

28 November: Documenting Catholic Social Welfare:
Students supply the primary sources to discuss.

Thirteenth Blog (mandatory, due 27th November by 11:59pm): Find and post a source from the Women & Social Justice’s online archive that relates to class readings and discussions of Catholics & social welfare. Be prepared to share your finding with the class on November 28th!

Week 15: Catholics and the Politics of Schools

3 December: Class will meet at the Gene Siskel Film Center (right next to the State/Lake Red Line Stop) at 6pm for the 6:15 showing of Inquiring Nuns. The film is 66 minutes long, followed by dinner. *any student NOT able to go to the film will need to let Dr. Shermer know by Sunday, December 2nd*

5 December: Every student MUST bring a copy of their film’s paper introduction and working outline. We will workshop those papers in class and go over the expectations for scholarly writing and how they differ from blog posts.

Fourteenth Blog (optional): Connect the 1968 documentary, Inquiring Nuns, to at least one theme that we have explored over the course of the semester. This blog post must draw on class readings. (Due December 9th by 11:59pm).

7 December: Option to email Ruby drafts of final Film Paper for feedback

14 December: Film Paper Due by 4pm in Dr. Shermer’s Mailbox (History Department Mailroom, Crown Center, 5th Floor)

Over-Break Homework: Start thinking about Research Paper Proposal & Bibliography, both due after break.