RESEARCH AND SCHOLARSHIP

Our award-winning faculty are engaged in dynamic and active research projects, and their many books, translations, journal articles and poetry collections have appeared in a wide range of venues.

The Department of Humanities faculty have won major awards in scholarship, teaching, and service to the College and University, to the Catholic Church, and to Humanities education.

Theology and philosophy lead the way in our approaches to political science, literature, economics, ethics, history and architectural history.

 

NEW FACULTY BOOKS

Eugene McCarraher's book, "The Enchantments of Mammon: Capitalism as the Religion of Modernity"

Eugene McCarraher, PhDThe Enchantments of Mammon: Capitalism as the Religion of Modernity (Belknap Press: An imprint of Harvard University Press, 2019)

Eugene McCarraher, PhD, challenges the conventional view of capitalism as a force for disenchantment. He argues that, from Puritan and evangelical valorizations of profit to the heavenly Fordist city, the mystically animated corporation, and the deification of the market, capitalism has hijacked our intrinsic longing for divinity, laying hold to our souls.

Mary L. Hirschfeld's book, "Aquinas and the Market: Toward a Humane Economy"

Mary L. Hirschfeld, PhDAquinas and the Market: Toward a Humane Economy (Harvard University Press, 2018)

Economists and theologians usually inhabit different intellectual worlds. Economists investigate the workings of markets and tend to set ethical questions aside. Theologians, anxious to take up concerns raised by market outcomes, often dismiss economics and lose insights into the influence of market incentives on individual behavior. Mary Hirschfeld, PhD, who was a professor of economics for fifteen years before training as a theologian, seeks to bridge these two fields in this innovative work about economics and the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas.

According to Dr. Hirschfeld, an economics rooted in Thomistic thought integrates many of the insights of economists with a larger view of the good life and gives us critical purchase on the ethical shortcomings of modern capitalism. In a Thomistic approach, she writes, ethics and economics cannot be reconciled if we begin with narrow questions about fair wages or the acceptability of usury. Rather, we must begin with an understanding of how economic life serves human happiness. The Thomistic economics that Hirschfeld outlines is thus capable of dealing with our culture as it is, while still offering direction about how we might make the economy better serve the human good.

Anna Bonta Moreland's book, "Muhammad Reconsidered: A Christian Perspective on Islamic Prophecy"

Anna Bonta Moreland, PhDMuhammad Reconsidered: A Christian Perspective on Islamic Prophecy (University of Notre Dame Press, 2020)

Scholarly attempts to understand Islam in the West over the past several years have failed to take Islamic theology seriously. This book engages Islam from deep within the Christian tradition by addressing the question of the prophethood of Muhammad. Anna Bonta Moreland calls for a retrieval of Thomistic thought on prophecy to view Muhammad within a Christian theology of revelation, without either appropriating the prophet as an unwitting Christian or reducing both Christianity and Islam to a common denominator. This historical recovery leads to a more sophisticated understanding of Islam, one that honors the integrity of the Catholic tradition and, through that integrity, argues for the possibility in principle of Muhammad as a religious prophet. Muhammad Reconsidered not only is a constructive contribution to Catholic theology but also has enormous potential to help scholars reframe and comprehend Christian-Muslim relations.

Margaret Grubiak's book, "Monumental Jesus: Landscapes of Faith & Doubt in Modern America"

Margaret M. Grubiak, PhDMonumental Jesus: Landscapes of Faith & Doubt in Modern America (University of Virginia Press, 2020)

The American landscape is host to numerous works of religious architecture, sometimes questionable in taste and large, if not titanic, in scale. In her lively study of satire and religious architecture, Margaret Grubiak, PhD, challenges how we typically view such sites by shifting the focus from believers to doubters, and from producers to consumers. Dr. Grubiak considers an array of sacred architectural constructions―from "Touchdown Jesus" at the University of Notre Dame to the Wizard of Oz Mormon temple outside Washington, D.C., to the renamed "Gumby Jesus" of the Christ of the Ozarks statue in Eureka Springs, Arkansas―that show how religious doubt is made manifest in the humorous, satirical, blasphemous, and popular culture responses to religious architecture and image in modern America.

Jesse Couenhoven's book, "Predestination: A Guide for the Perplexed"

The concept of predestination has been an essential topic in theology and philosophy since, at least, the time of St. Augustine and is notoriously among the most contentious of religious doctrines. Many people of faith have found the belief that God destines them for eternal joy a source of great comfort, but many others have found it deeply troubling. Above all, those who reject predestination have been motivated by concerns about the doctrine's implications for human free will and divine responsibility for evil.

Couenhoven addresses these issues by taking up two important questions: “What does predestination actually imply?”, and “How have great theologians defended their doctrines of predestination?” He answers these queries by analyzing why Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, and Barth found the doctrine attractive, and explaining the different ways in which they combined belief in predestination, freedom, and God's goodness. The book concludes with a constructive chapter in which Couenhoven defends predestination as a doctrine of hope.

 

FACULTY AWARDS

Our Humanities faculty have been recognized for outstanding contributions in their fields.
 

Jesse Couenhoven, PhD, 2020-2023 “Collaborative Inquiries in Christian Theological Anthropology” Grant, Templeton Foundation

Mary L. Hirschfeld, PhD, 2019 “Economy and Society” Award, The Centesimus Annus—Pro Pontifice Foundation

Mary L. Hirschfeld, PhD, 2019 Aldersgate Prize, John Wesley Honors College, Indiana Wesleyan University

Jesse Couenhoven, PhD, 2018-2020 Planning Grant, Science-Engaged Theology, Templeton Foundation

Michael Tomko, PhD, 2018 Mid-Career Scholar Award, Villanova University

Thomas W. Smith, PhD, and Kevin Hughes, PhD, the first two chairs of the Department of Humanities, 2018 papal Cross pro Ecclesia et Pontifice

James Matthew Wilson, PhD, 2017 Hiett Prize in the Humanities, Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture

Margaret Grubiak, PhD, 2017 Catherine Bishir Prize for Best Article in Vernacular Architecture, Vernacular Architecture Forum

Michael Tomko, PhD, 2016 Book of the Year Award, The Conference on Christianity & Literature

 

For more on our faculty’s writing, publishing, speaking and research

FACULTY SPOTLIGHT

Jesse Couenhoven is a humanities professor.

Jesse Couenhoven, PhD, receives $3.9 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation 

Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) has received a three-year, $3.9 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation to explore how the theology of human nature engages scientific approaches to humanity. The largest grant ever received by CLAS, it will fund a new research initiative, “Collaborative Inquiries in Christian Theological Anthropology,” directed by Jesse Couenhoven, PhD, a professor of moral theology in Villanova’s Department of Humanities and the Department of Theology, and the project’s principal investigator.  

The interdisciplinary effort, supported by nearly $700,000 in additional contributions from Villanova, the University of Notre Dame, and 12 other colleges and universities, will explore how the theology of human nature engages with biology and the social sciences. Its primary goal is to nurture ambitious, science-engaged theological scholarship that addresses topics such as human flourishing, moral agency, freedom and the development of virtue

Mary Hirschfeld is a professor of Humanities.

Mary Hirschfeld, PhD, earns Economy and Society International Award

In 2019 Mary Hirschfeld, PhD, was awarded the Economy and Society International Award from the Fondazione Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice, given every two years to individuals who are making significant contributions to implementing the social doctrine of the Catholic Church, for her book, Aquinas and the Market: Toward a Humane Economy (Harvard University Press, 2018). Dr. Hirschfeld traveled to Rome to receive the award from Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, and Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising.

  

STUDENT SPOTLIGHT

Timothy Long

Timothy Long ’20 CLAS was among six graduating seniors in 2020 to receive Villanova’s prestigious Falvey Scholars Award, a joint collaboration of Falvey Memorial Library and the Center for Research and Fellowships. The award recognizes students who have excelled in their senior research projects. Timothy’s Humanities Honors thesis was titled “Even the Mercy of the Lord Burns: Violence, Distortion, and Grace in Flannery O’Connor, Jacques Maritain, and Karl Barth.” Learn more.

Timothy was a recipient of the Catherine Barr Windels Scholarship for study at Blackfriars Hall, University of Oxford (2019). He is also the seventeenth recipient of our Karol Wojtlya Medallion for Excellence in the Humanities.

Caroline Arnold

Caroline Arnold ’20 CLAS received the 2019 Department of Humanities Senior Essay award for her Humanities/Honors thesis, “Insignes pietate viri: Virgil, Augustine and Dante on the Virtue of Piety.” This ambitious essay looks toward a rehabilitation of the virtue of piety, understood not as mere private devotion or fidelity, but in its full scope, which she discloses in close readings of Virgil’s Aeneid, St. Augustine’s Confessions and Dante’s Vita nuova and Divine Comedy. Her nearly eighty-page thesis was the culmination of work that she began as a 2019 recipient of a Villanova Undergraduate Research Fellowship.

Department of Humanities

St. Augustine Center Room 304
Villanova University 
800 Lancaster Avenue
Villanova, PA 19085

Chairperson: Dr. Michael Tomko