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Amy Koehlinger

Associate Professor of Religion


Departmental Area: American Religious History
Research Areas :American Catholic culture; religious embodiment; gender

Address: Department of Religion
641 University Way / P.O. Box 3061520
The Florida State University
Tallahassee, FL 32306-1520
Office: 120D Dodd Hall
Email: akoehlinger@fsu.edu
Office Hours: Wednesday, 11:00-12:00 and by appointment

Curriculum Vitae


Amy Koehlinger (Ph.D. ‘02, Yale University, American Religious History) teaches courses in North American religious history, American Catholicism, religious embodiment, and methodological issues surrounding the application of ethnographic methods to historical research and writing.  In 2009 she received the FSU Undergraduate Teaching Award.

Her research focuses on the culture of American Catholicism, historical intersections of religion and social reform in the United States, and the construction of gender within American religious traditions. Her first book The New Nuns: Racial Justice and Religious Reform in the 1960s (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2007) documents the involvement of Catholic women religious in racial justice programs during the civil rights era, exploring how activism in this “racial apostolate” transformed sisters’ ideas about gender and power and influenced the reforms they implemented in their own religious congregations in the wake of the Second Vatican Council.  The New Nuns won the 2009 Eric Hoffer Prize in the category of Culture and was a finalist for the Hoffer Grand Prize.  

Dr. Koehlinger is currently working on three projects.   Her next monograph, Rosaries and Rope Burns: Boxing and Manhood in American Catholicism, 1890-1970 (for Princeton University Press) explores the historical significance of the sport of boxing among American Catholics, particularly boxing's relationship with religious ideas about the redemptive value of physical suffering and blood, and the sport's effect on performances of manhood among particular racial and ethnic groups of Catholics.  Dr. Koehlinger also is writing From Charity to Justice, a history of the apostolate of Franciscans in the U.S. for the Academy of American Franciscan History, and she is co-editor of the Oxford Handbook of American Catholicism.

Her work has been supported by the Center for the Study of Religion at Princeton, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism at Notre Dame, and the Institute for the Advanced Study of Religion at Yale.

In the fall term 2011 Dr. Koehlinger will teach REL 2121 Religions in the U.S, REL 3128 Religion and Sport, and the undergraduate seminar REL 4404 What is Religion?  What is Religious Embodiment?  She will be on leave spring and fall terms 2012.


Selected Publications

The New Nuns: Racial Justice and Religious Reform in the 1960s (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007). Winner of 2009 Eric Hoffer Prize, Culture category.

Rosaries and Rope Burns: Boxing and Manhood in American Catholicism, 1880-1970 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, manuscript in preparation).

“Catholic Distinctiveness and the Challenge of American Denominationalism,” Interpreting Denominational History: Perspectives on the Past, Prospects for the Future, Keith Harper, ed., (Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press, 2008).

“Academia and Aggiornamento: the Social Sciences and Postconciliar Reform among American Sisters,” U.S. Catholic Historian 26:4 (Fall 2007).

“‘Are you the White Sisters or the Black Sisters?’: Women Confounding Categories of Race and Gender” in Women and Religion in America: Reimagining the Past, Catherine Brekus, editor. (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2007).

"'Race Relations Needs the Nun': Sources of Continuity and Change in the Racial Apostolate of the 1960s," U.S. Catholic Historian, 24:4 (Fall 2005), 39-59.

"'Let Us Live for Those Who Love Us': Faith, Family, and the Contours of Manhood among the Knights of Columbus in Late Nineteenth-Century Connecticut," Journal of Social History, 38: 2 (Winter 2004), 455-469.

Recent Courses

Fall 2011

REL2121 Religion in the U.S. Dr. Koehlinger
The purpose of this course is to introduce you to the historical study of religion in the United States, with an eye toward ways that social and cultural contexts have shaped the religious experience of Americans in different places and times. The course is structured around 4 themes, each of which is comprised of a pairing of common analytical concepts used in the study of religion, (i.e the first theme is ―pluralism and syncretism). Readings, lectures, and class discussions will explore the relationship between the 2 concepts in specific places and times in U.S. history. Over the course of the semester we will survey religious developments, movements, groups, and individuals, stopping to linger over representative ―soundings within each historical period. The primary goal of the course is for you to become familiar with the history of American religion both by learning about central events and trends. Meets Liberal Studies Area IV and Gordon Rule requirements.
Sec. 1 (Ref# 04068) M W F 10:10am-11:00am BEL 0116
Sec. 2 (Ref# 07669) T R 11:00am-12:15pm WJB 2009
Sec. 3 (Ref# 07670) M W F 1:25pm-2:15pm HCB 0312
Sec. 4 (Ref# 07675) T R 2:00pm-3:15pm DHA 0103 *Dr. Koehlinger

REL3128 Religion and Sports Dr. Koehlinger
Many sports fans explain their love of sport using religious language. Athletes are dedicated to physical training with religious intensity. The euphoria of watching your team hit tie-breaking a jumpshot as the buzzer sounds rivals the exuberant joy of a religious revival. People describe Saturday afternoons the ballpark as a visit to ―the church of baseball. And even our beloved Doak Campbell is as much a cathedral as it is a stadium for some fans—complete with a stained glass window of the patron saint of FSU football. How should we understand the ways religion and sport intersect in the U.S.? Is sport a kind of religion? Is sport a rival to religion, or does sport make people more attached to religion? How have religious groups used sport to spread their message? This course is an introduction to religion and sport that explores the issue of whether sport is a kind of religion. Lectures will explore the nature of sport, the nature of religion, the historical development of specific sports in the U.S., and the history of religion in America, supplemented by films and game clips. Short assigned readings will focus on specific moments when American sports were intertwined with American religion.
Sec. 4 (Ref# 07674) T R 12:30pm-1:45pm DHA 0103

REL4044 What is Religion? Dr. Koehlinger
Most people explain religion as something otherworldly or transcendent, something that happens to the soul, through belief, as a way to approach heavenly paradise. But this view of religion (which often dominates the academic study of religion) ignores the fact that people live bodies in a concrete, material world. The seminar explores the question "what is religion?" by thinking about the ways religion is experienced in the body and expressed through it. What do spirit possession, ecstatic dancing, speaking in tongues, and painful pilgrimage rituals teach us about what religion is and what it does? We will begin by briefly surveying the ideas of various thinkers about the origins, essence and function of religion as a category of human experience, but the heart of the course will focus on books and films that look at examples of religion and its intimate relationship with the human body.
Sec. 1 (Ref# 04089) W 2:00pm-4:45pm DOD 0118

REL 4564 Religion, Sports, Gender
REL 4564 Conciliar Catholicism in the U.S.
REL 5565 Modern U.S. Catholicism: Sources of Continuity and Change
REL 6596 Theory, Practice, and Historical Application of Religious Ethnography