Research & Scholarship

Couenhoven Book

Dr. Jesse Couenhoven has received grants from the University of Chicago and Florida State University to support his scholarship on forgiveness and freedom. He recently edited a focus issue of the Journal of Religious Ethics on inter-religious and inter-disciplinary views of forgiveness. His book Stricken by Sin, Cured by Christ (Oxford University Press, 2013), explores Augustine’s claim, developed in his doctrines of original sin and operative grace, that we have limited control over our moral personalities. He has also published numerous essays and book chapters on Augustinian, Barthian, and feminist theologies of sin and grace, freedom, natural law, virtue ethics, forgiveness, and retributive justice. He is currently finishing a book that succinctly retells the logic of human and divine agency in Catholic and Protestant views about predestination.    

Grubiak Book

Dr. Margaret Grubiak studies American religious architecture in the twentieth century. Her book White Elephants on Campus: The Decline of the University Chapel in America, 1920-1960 (University of Notre Dame Press, 2014) explores how universities used architecture to retain religion on campus amid secularization. She has also written on the so-called “Touchdown Jesus” mural at the University of Notre Dame; the popular reception of the Mormon Temple outside of Washington, D.C. as the Emerald City in The Wizard of Oz; and how Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma images the “electronic church” in the United States.

Hirshfeld Book

Dr. Mary Hirschfeld holds PhDs in both economics and theology.  Her research draws on her dual expertise, developing a theological approach to economics grounded in the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas, but which is also in dialogue with mainstream economics. She has published several articles and chapters and lectured widely about this work which will culminate in her book Toward a Humane Economy: Aquinas and the Modern Economy under contract with Harvard University Press. In addition she works on the dialogue between Catholic Social Thought and economics in association with the Lumen Christi Institute in Chicago, and the True Wealth of Nations project of the Institute of Advanced Catholic Studies at the University of Southern California.

Hughes Book

Dr. Kevin L. Hughes is an historical theologian focusing mainly on patristic and medieval theology and spirituality. He is particularly interested in mystical theology  and the history of scriptural exegesis. He is the author of Church History: Faith Handed On (Loyola Press, 2000) and Constructing Antichrist: Paul, Biblical Commentary, and the Development of Doctrine in the Early Middle Ages (Catholic University of America Press, 2005 (paper 2014)), and he co-edited Augustine and Liberal Education (Lexington, 2003) and Augustine and Politics (Lexington, 2005). His articles have appeared in journals such as Theological Studies, Modern Theology, Augustinian Studies,  and The Heythrop Journal, and he has contributed chapters to numerous volumes. His current research focuses on Saint Bonaventure (d. 1274) and the theological movement of “ressourcement theology” in the 20th century.

McCarraher Book

Dr. Eugene McCarraher's research covers a wide variety of topics: American cultural, intellectual, and economic history; theology, anthropology, economics, and business culture; and radical social and political thought. His first book, Christian Critics: Religion and the Impasse in Modern American Social Thought (Cornell University Press, 2000) explores the development of Roman Catholic and liberal Protestant social thought and cultural criticism in the 20th century. In addition to publishing articles in history and theology, he has also written a number of essays and book reviews for Books and Culture,  CommonwealDissent, the Nation, the Hedgehog ReviewRaritan, and the Chicago Tribune. He is completing The Enchantments of Mammon: Capitalism and the Moral Imagination, a study of capitalism as a moral and religious phenomenon since the 17th century.

Moreland Book

Dr. Anna Bonta Moreland’s areas of research include faith and reason, medieval theology with an emphasis on Thomas Aquinas, and the theology of religious pluralism, and comparative theology, especially between Christianity and Islam. She has written Known by Nature: Thomas Aquinas on Natural Knowledge of God (Herder & Herder, 2010), and edited New Voices in Catholic Theology (Herder & Herder, 2012). She is working on her next book project on prophecy in Christianity and Islam. 



Mark Shiffman

Dr. Mark Shiffman’s researches focus on the transformations through the ages of the disciplines of knowledge in the west, from the Greeks to the present, in both the practical (moral, economic and political) and theoretical (metaphysical, natural scientific and mathematical) fields of inquiry. He is the translator of Aristotle’s De Anima (Focus Books) and Descartes’ Rules for the Direction of the Mind (Saint Augustine’s Press), and has published on Plato, Aristotle, Plutarch, Augustine, William of Ockham, John Locke, Simone Weil, Ralph Ellison, Wendell Berry and Rémi Brague.

Smith Book

Dr. Thomas W. Smith's research proceeds along two arcs: classical political thought and the intersection of politics, religion and culture in contemporary life.  His research in classical political thought centers on recovering the rhetorical and dialectical character of ancient texts and connecting that with a renewed appreciation of the ways this character advances notions about the nature of political life. His research on contemporary issues has focused on Catholic Social Thought, liberal democracy, and higher education. He authored Revaluing Ethics: Aristotle's Dialectical Pedagogy (State University of New York Press, 2001). His work has appeared in such journals as The American Political Science Review, Logos, The Journal of PoliticsPolisPolity, Religion and Literature, and The Review of Politics

Helena Tomko Book

Dr. Helena Tomko studies the Catholic presence in early twentieth-century German literature and culture, in particular writers associated with the inner emigration during the Third Reich. She has recently published a series of articles on the philosopher and cultural critic Theodor Haecker that discuss aspects of the theological anthropology he articulated in works written against the grain of National Socialism. Her book, Sacramental Realism: Gertrud von le Fort and German Catholic Literature in the Weimar Republic and Third Reich, was published in 2007, and she co-edited the 2017 themed issue “Satires of Dehumanziation, 1918-45” for Oxford German Studies. Her articles have appeared in venues including German Life and Letters, The German Quarterly, and Religion and Literature. Dr. Tomko sustains a broad interest in religion and literature, in particular the sacramental aesthetic of Catholic fiction, exemplified in the works of writers from Gertrud von le Fort to Martin Mosebach, Dante to Muriel Spark.

Tomko Book

Dr. Michael Tomko’s research explores British Romanticism, English Catholic culture and history, the Inklings, and religion and literature broadly. He is the author of British Romanticism and the Catholic Question: Religion, History and National Identity, 1778-1829 (Palgrave, 2011) and co-editor of Firmly I Believe and Truly: The Spiritual Tradition of Catholic England, 1483-1999 (Oxford University Press, 2011). His next book, The Willing Suspension of Disbelief: Poetic Faith from Coleridge to Tolkien, will appear in Bloomsbury’s “New Directions in Religion and Literature” book series. He also serves as the book review editor of the academic journal Religion & Literature.

Wilson Book

Dr. James Matthew Wilson studies the interrelations of philosophical theology with modern art and literature, with particular attention to the ways in which ancient and medieval thought find expression in poetic form. He has published extensively on such writers as T.S. Eliot, Helen Pinkerton, Jacques Maritain, and Saint John Paul II. A poet and critic of contemporary poetry, he has published three collections of poems, including Some Permanent Things (Wiseblood, 2014), two short critical monographs—Timothy Steele: A Critical introduction (Story Line, 2012) and The Catholic Imagination in Modern American Poetry (Wiseblood, 2014)—and many essays and reviews in various magazines and journals.

Contact Us

Department of Humanities

St. Augustine Center Room 304
Villanova University 
800 Lancaster Avenue
Villanova, PA 19085 
Phone: 610.519.6165
Fax: 610.519.5307

ChairpersonDr. Michael Tomko

Administrative AssistantLuisa Ruggieri