Call for Chapter Proposals: American Patroness: National Shrines to Mary and the Making of US Catholicism

Call for Chapter Proposals: American Patroness: National Shrines to Mary and the Making of US Catholicism Editors: Karen Park, St. Norbert College and Katherine Dugan, Springfield College

The virgin mother of Jesus has a mutable role in US Catholicism. She appears in rural Wisconsin and in urban New York City. She is at home in backyards and under highway overpasses. The Virgin Mary—in her many forms, ranging from Guadalupe to Fatima to Immaculate Conception—is also venerated at well-funded shrines and massive pilgrimage sites across the country. In the U.S. Mary has been both the focus of intimate personal devotion and an icon of ethnic identities and political movements.

American Patroness: National Shrines to Mary and the Making of US Catholicism will examine the role of Marian shrines in contemporary US Catholicism. This collection will include essays that use a range of ethnographic methods and archival resources to understand the ways Catholics have used Marian devotion to make an imprint on the landscape of this country, mapping their identities and priorities along the way. This collection argues that Marian shrines allow us to understand much about the historical, cultural, moral, and theological concerns of postwar Catholics and their descendants in the U.S. Marian shrines have provided American Catholics with a powerful way to define themselves as both patriotic Americans and devout Catholics. As a whole, this volume will present a cultural and historical analysis of the location of the Marian shrines and the people who built and visit them.

For this volume, the editors seek previously unpublished essays that focus on a particular American shrine to Mary as a lens onto some aspect of American religious life. These essays will also consider the role Marian shrines play in negotiating power relationships between and among church authorities, lay people, and supernatural figures, in this case, the Virgin Mary. Essays may use ethnography or history or cultural analysis to examine a Marian shrine. Essays may engage one or several of these questions: How and why is one divine figure able to encompass all of these identities? What is it about Mary—both as contemporary image, but also as historical figure—that facilitates this kind of wide-ranging interpretation of her? How do politics and personal piety get intertwined in the way Mary moves in the contemporary U.S? How are these shrines funded and where does the money for sustaining them come from? Why do some shrines lose popularity and relevance and others seem incapable of failing?

The editors are interested in previously unpublished essays that do any of the following:
 ● Explore the political landscape of a particular shrine in the U.S.
● Examine how ethnic and racial diversity are both represented and understood at a Marian shrine
● Consider how the material and visual aspects of Marian shrines shape the phenomenological experience of the shrines: this can include sacred art and architecture as well as mundane aspects such as landscaping, gift shops etc.
● Examine how and why Marian shrines are a visible staking out of American land, and a way to claim American (suburban) space for Catholic people and Catholic symbols.
● Analyze the gendered/gendering experiences of visiting these shrines
● Use interdisciplinary methods to explore the phenomenology of pilgrims’ experience of Marian shrines
● Engage with the evolving meanings and relationships negotiated at the shrines
 ● Provide thick descriptions of the devotional and ritual practices at these sites

 For an invitation to contribute a full chapter to this collection, please submit a 500- to 750-word abstract and a CV to by May 31, 2019. We anticipate making final selections for the volume by June 28, 2019 and will request completed essays by January 15, 2020. For inquiries about the collection, contact Karen Park at or Kate Dugan at


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