Elizabeth Hayes Alvarez

Associate Professor of Instruction and Undergraduate Program Director in Philadelphia, PA

Elizabeth Hayes Alvarez

Associate Professor of Instruction and Undergraduate Program Director in Philadelphia, PA

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I am the Undergraduate Program Director for the Department of Religion at Temple University. My students want to be researchers, journalists, lawyers, medical professionals, social workers, business leaders, and politicians who can accurately think and talk about the role religions play in society. I love teaching and learning from them. I also love pursuing my own research on the boundaries of religious communities and how religious worldviews shape individual identities.

My first book, The Valiant Woman: The Virgin Mary in Nineteenth-Century American Cultureis available from UNC Press. The book reveals how 19th c. Protestants were surprisingly and deeply fascinated with the Virgin Mary, even as her role as a devotional figure who united American Catholics grew. Documenting the vivid Marian imagery that suffused popular culture, it argues that Mary became a potent, shared exemplar of womanhood around which Christians of all stripes rallied during an era filled with anxiety about the emerging market economy and shifting gender roles.

I am currently working on a book about religion and mental health in 19th and 20th c. America. As the field of psychiatry developed, religious communities had to contend with new terminology and professionals who offered a new vision of human flourishing and tools for spiritual and emotional healing. The book tells the story of what they borrowed, what they contributed, and where they drew the line.

While the shore will always be my home, I love the vitality of cities. Having lived in Manhattan, Chicago, and Brooklyn, my family and I are enjoying the historically and culturally rich city of Philadelphia.

When not researching and teaching, I enjoy traveling and exploring with my husband and three children.

  • Work
    • Temple University
  • Education
    • University of Chicago, Divinity School
    • Wellesley College
Testimonials
Fascinating and important, The Valiant Woman is as ambitious as it is exciting. Elizabeth Hayes Alvarez captures U.S. Catholics' and Protestants' engagement with Marian imagery and devotionalism and uncovers how they shared in the production of religious meaning as well as a symbol of womanhood."
Kristy Nabhan-Warren, author of The Cursillo Movement in America
The Valiant Woman makes a significant contribution to important areas of recent religious research, including gender, Marianism, popular culture, and Catholics invested in Mary, creating and appropriating her formidable cultural capital for common and divergent interests."
Julie Byrne, author of O God of Players
In this truly original study, Mary emerges as a powerful symbol fo womanhood and motherhood not just for Catholics but for Protestants as well. The Valiant Woman will forever change the way people view the role of the Virgin Mary in 19th c American culture."
Jay P. Dolan, author of The Irish Americans: A History