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Kate Moran, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
American Studies

Courses Taught

ASTD 1000: Investigating America: An Introduction to American Studies; ASTD 2200: American Homefronts, Global Wars: After 9/11; ASTD 2300: Americans Abroad; ASTD 2400: Immigration in U.S. History and Culture; ASTD 3040: Religion & U.S. Global Activism; ASTD 3500: Religion and American Culture: American Catholics; ASTD 4960: Senior Capstone; ASTD 5930: Cultures of American Religion; ASTD 5930: Illness, Health and Healing; ASTD 5930: Ideas and Intellectuals in Twentieth-Century America; ASTD 6100: Dissertation Colloquium; ASTD 6400: Transnational America; ASTD 6500: Visions of U.S. Empire; ASTD 6930: Cultural Geographies of American Religion


Ph.D. in History, Johns Hopkins University (2009)
M.A. in History, Johns Hopkins University (2004)
B.A. in History, University of Colorado at Boulder (1998)

Research Interests

Moran works in the fields of modern U.S. intellectual and cultural history and religious studies. Her research focuses on religious thought and culture (with particular attention to American Catholicism) and processes of U.S. nation- and empire-building.

Her first book, The Imperial Church: Catholic Founding Fathers and United States Empire, traces a widespread reevaluation of the place of Roman Catholicism in U.S. history and culture during the Gilded Age and Progressive Era. For much of the nineteenth and early twentieth century, anti-Catholicism was a powerful force in American life, inspiring political movements, popular literature, and mob violence. However, alongside and against these anti-Catholic currents, many American Protestants in the late nineteenth century began to celebrate Catholic missionary histories. This book traces such celebrations in three different sites and circumstances: in the upper Midwest, Southern California, and the U.S. colonial Philippines. In each place—in journalism and travel narratives, poetry and plays, and historical monuments and pageants—American Protestants joined their Catholic compatriots in speaking with nostalgia and admiration about historical Catholic missionaries: the Jesuit Jacques Marquette in the Midwest, the Franciscan Junípero Serra in Southern California, and the Spanish friars in the Philippines. They compared them favorably to the Puritans, Pilgrims, and American Revolutionaries, drawing these missionaries into a cross-confessional pantheon of U.S. national and imperial founding fathers. In the process, they cast Catholic missionaries as gentle and effective agents of conquest, uplift, and economic growth, arguing that they could serve as both origins and models for an American civilizing empire. Ultimately, The Imperial Church connects Catholic history and the history of U.S. empire, demonstrating that the religious dimensions of American imperial rhetoric have been as cross-confessional as the imperial nation itself.

Professional Experience

Before joining the faculty at SLU, from 2010 to 2013, Moran was an assistant professor in the Department of History at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, where she taught seminars on U.S. cultural history, a research methods course for majors, and the second, post-Civil War half of the U.S. history survey.  She spent the academic year 2012-13 as a Fulbright Guest Professor in Germany, dividing her time between the Department of History at the John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies at the Freie Universitaet Berlin, and the Department of American Studies at Universitaet Osnabrueck.

Publications and Media Placements


The Imperial Church: Catholic Founding Fathers and United States Empire (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2020)


Confessional Crossings: American Protestants in post-Risorgimento Italy,” in progress.

Beyond the Black Legend: Catholicism and U.S. Empire Building in the Philippines and Puerto Rico, 1898-1914,” U.S. Catholic Historian 33, No. 4 (Fall 2015): 27-51. (Special issue on Empire: Global Expansion of U.S. Catholicism.)

"Catholicism and the Making of the U.S. Pacific" Journal of the Gilded-Age and Progressive Era 12.4 (October 2013): 434–474. ©Cambridge University Press


Review of Cara Lee Burnidge, A Peaceful Conquest: Woodrow Wilson, Religion, and the New World Order in Sociology of Religion 79, No. 4 (21 November 2018): 530-31.

Review of Colin D. Moore, American Imperialism and the State, 1893-1921 in H-SHGAPE, May 2018.

Review of Julie Byrne, The Other Catholics: Remaking America’s Largest Religion in Journal of Religious History 41, no 4 (December 2017), 566-68.

Review of Anne M. Martínez, Catholic Borderlands: Mapping Catholicism onto American Empire, 1905-1935, H-SHGAPE, H-Net Reviews. June 2015.

Review of R. Scott Appleby and Kathleen Sprows Cummings, eds., Catholics in the American Century: Recasting Narratives of U.S. History in History: Reviews of New Books 42, no. 2 (April 2014): 52-53.

Honors and Awards

Selected Post-doctoral Grants and Fellowships

Sabbatical Grant for Researchers, Louisville Institute, Louisville, KY, 2020-21.

Mother Theodore Guerin Research Travel Grant, Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism, The University of Notre Dame, 2020.

Newberry Library Short-Term Fellowship, Newberry Library, Chicago, IL, 2017-2018.

Fellow, Young Scholars in American Religion, Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, 2014-2016.

Fulbright Junior Lectureship in American Literature and American Studies, Germany, Fall 2012-Spring 2013.

Research Travel Grant, Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism, The University of Notre Dame, 2011.

Teaching Awards

Nominee, Donald G. Brennan Award for Excellence in Graduate Mentoring, Saint Louis University, 2019.

Kappa Alpha Theta sorority (SLU chapter), Faculty Teaching Award, Spring 2018.

Donald G. Brennan Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching, Saint Louis University, 2017.

Student-nominated keynote speaker and faculty inductee, Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Spring 2012.

University Leadership Mentor Award, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Spring 2011.

Community Work and Service

Moran is the founder and facilitator of SLU’s multi-disciplinary Cultures of American Religion working group. Since 2014, the group of faculty and graduate students from American Studies, Theological Studies, English, History, and Communication has met monthly to workshop work-in-progress.

In 2017, as an extension of the Cultures of American Religion group, Moran also founded the American Religion, Culture, and History (A.R.C.H.) Series – an ongoing program of public talks and events intended to bring SLU faculty, students, and staff together in conversation with St. Louis community members and local scholars. In Spring 2019, the A.R.C.H. series produced a half-day conference—organized in collaboration with Our Lady of Guadalupe parish in Ferguson, MO—on “La Fe: Latino Catholicism in the Midwest.” The A.R.C.H. series has also produced public talks by Prof. Saba Fatima (Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville) on “#MeToo in Muslim America,” Sr. Barbara Roche (Sisters of Loretto) on “A Lasting Endowment of Hope: Working for Justice and Acting for Peace Today,” Prof. Debra Mason (University of Missouri School of Journalism) on “Religious Freedom, Terror, and the News,” and Prof. Gene Zubovich (Washington University in St. Louis) on “Global Gospel, American Politics.”