Rachael Givens Johnson

Field & Specialties

Early modern European intellectual history
Gender and religion
Enlightenment Spain
Religious and cultural history

Education

M.A., University of Virginia, 2015

B.A., Brigham Young University, 2011

Publications

2015                “Sor Maria Gertrudis and Her Cross: The Burden of Doubt in the Poetry of an Eighteenth-century Nun,” Dieciocho: Hispanic Enlightenment 38:1 (2015), 83-102.

2015                “‘Utopian Dreams’: Mary Wollstonecraft and the Sexless Soul,” Religion in the Age of Enlightenment, Vol. 5 (2015), 55-96.

2012                “‘Lost Wagonloads of Plates’: Negotiating the Boundaries of Canonicity,” Dialogue, 45:3 (2012), 98-126.

Current Research

My dissertation examines the encounters between Enlightenment and Baroque Catholicism in the Spanish eighteenth century. The historiography typically casts Baroque Catholicism as a “counter-theology” juxtaposed to the “progressive” and “rational” religion of Enlightenment reformers. This project eschews that binary by putting the experiences and discourse of Baroque Catholics in dialogue with their Enlightenment contemporaries, in peninsular Spain and its New World colonies. I interrogate reformers’ efforts to create and naturalize polarities between the sacred and the profane, the transcendent and the immanent, the material and the immaterial, the public and private, practice and belief. These were binaries that Baroque Catholics never fully accepted, but they comprise a complicated Enlightenment heritage that the modern West is finally reconsidering. I argue that Baroque Catholicism was not a counter-theology or counter-modernity espoused only by backwards indigenous peoples, economic subalterns or decaying elites. It was a way of physically, psychologically, socially, and spiritually inhabiting the world that people of all stripes found no reason to give up, even and especially amidst the “progress” promised by the ilustrados. Their debates exposed deepening rifts in elemental notions of epistemology, embodiment, the public role of religion, and the nature of spiritual experience. Ultimately, reintegrating these diverse Iberian actors into narratives of secularization and modernity challenges fundamental conceptual categories from which Western historians have traditionally operated.

Awards & Honors

Fellowships, Grants, and Scholarships

2018-2019       Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellow 

2017-2018       Sunmark Foundation Fellow, the Institute for Humane Studies

2017                Gwin J. and Ruth Kolb Research Travel Award, from American Society for Eighteenth-century Studies

2017                Center for Global Inquiry and Innovation Research Grant

2016-2017       Dumas Malone Fellowship

2016-2017       Sunmark Foundation Fellow, the Institute for Humane Studies

2016                Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences Summer Research Grant

2016                Society of Fellows Summer Research Grant

2015, 2016      Huskey Travel Grants

2015-2016       Junior Fellow, UVA Society of Fellows

2013-2015       Humane Studies Fellowship, the Institute for Humane Studies

Awards

2014    Ibero-American Society for Eighteenth Century Studies (IASECS), Pilar Sáenz Annual Student Essay Prize; awarded for “Sor Maria Gertrudis and Her Cross: The Burden of Doubt in the Poetry of an Eighteenth-century Nun”

2011    Women’s History Research Award for thesis “Slaves, Monsters, and Souls: Theology and Feminism in the Spanish Enlightenment.” 

2011    BYU Phi Kappa Phi, Second place for thesis “Slaves, Monsters, and Souls: Theology and Feminism in the Spanish Enlightenment.”

Courses Taught

2016, Spring    “Universalism and Tolerance in Early Modern Spain”: Guest seminar for Prof. Alison Weber’s “Sepharad” course, University of Virginia, Spanish Department

2016, Spring    “Early Modern Catholicism: Survival and Revival,” Guest Lecturer for Dr. Erin Lambert’s undergraduate course, “The Supernatural in Early Modern Europe”

2016, Spring    Teaching Assistant, “The Supernatural in Early Modern Europe,” Prof. Erin Lambert, University of Virginia, Corcoran History department

2015, Fall        Teaching Assistant, “Genocide,” Prof. Jeffrey Rossman, University of Virginia, Corcoran History department

2015, Spring    Teaching Assistant, “Social History of Early Modern Europe,” Prof. Erin Lambert, University of Virginia, Corcoran History department

2014, Fall        Teaching Assistant, “The Supernatural in Early Modern Europe,” Prof. Erin Lambert, University of Virginia, Corcoran History department

Media Appearances