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Cummings Awarded Best Paper Prize by American Studies Association

Kathleen Cummings, assistant professor of American studies and acting director of the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism, was awarded the 2009 best paper prize from the Religion and American Culture Caucus of the American Studies Association (ASA).

The paper, titled “Rehabilitating Bridget: Gender, Anti-Catholicism, and Sainthood in American Culture,” is related to Cummings’ current book project, tentatively titled Citizen Saints: Catholics and Canonization in American Culture.

According to the prize committee, Cummings’ paper “demonstrates the ways in which devotion to saints and the process of canonization reveal the shifting terrain of Catholicism in American culture, the ethnic politics of American Catholic life, and, paradoxically, the role of saints in mediating Catholic identity to a Protestant majority culture.” The committee praised Cummings for skillfully representing the strengths of interdisciplinary scholarship by bringing together a wide range of sources and perspectives to capture her subject with “nuance and grace.”

The best paper prize is awarded annually to a paper that makes the most significant and creative contribution to the study of religion and American culture. The Religion and American Culture Caucus aims to bring scholars together to discuss teaching and research at the intersection of American religion and American Studies, broadly understood.

Cummings’ research interests include women and American religion, U.S. Catholicism, the Gilded Age, and the Progressive Era. She is the author of New Women of the Old Faith: Gender and American Catholicism in the Progressive Era, which was published in 2009 by the University of North Carolina Press.