Rachael Givens Johnsonrag5pr@virginia.edu
Field & Specialties
Early modern European intellectual history
Colonial Latin America
religious and cultural history
M.A., University of Virginia, 2015
B.A., Brigham Young University, 2011
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.
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
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.”
Fellowships, Grants, and Scholarships
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
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