Katharine Massam is a historian of religion, with particular interests in cultural and theological understandings of prayer and work. Her most recent book A Bridge Between: Spanish Benedictine Missionary Women in Australia (ANU Press, 2020) is recognised as a ‘model of how religious history, in its broader bearings, can be written’. It was shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Award in Australian History in 2021.
Katharine moved to Melbourne to take up a position in ‘Church History’ in 2000, and has remained part of the ecumenical faculty at what is now Pilgrim Theological College ever since. She was previously a lecturer in the Department of History at the University of Adelaide (1996-2000), and a postdoctoral research fellow at the Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University (1994 – 2000). Originally from Perth, Katharine’s doctoral work at the University of Western Australia was supervised by Tom Stannage and Patricia Crawford and published as Sacred Threads: Catholic Spirituality in Australia (University of New South Wales Press, 1996). She was elected as a member of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATIS) in 2017, and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society in 2022.
Attention to the ‘lived experience’ of faith and belief is a strong feature of Katharine’s research, so that her work draws regularly on neglected sources, influenced especially by postcolonial and feminist analysis. She has published on the monastic theology, the history of education and on the experience of religious communities. Her collaboration from 1993 with the Aboriginal Corporation of New Norcia and the Benedictine communities of that former mission town has been formative of her research agenda. With colleagues internationally she held a collaborative grant from the American Academy of Religion in 2022 for a project on the theological method of Joseph Cardijn and its transformative potential for women. She continues to publish on the ‘lived experience’ of faith and belief and her account of the vision and mission of the Presentation Sisters in Victoria since Vatican II is forthcoming in 2023.
Katharine teaches in the areas of history and spirituality. Her subjects include methodological surveys in both fields, and upper-level units focussed on developing a community of research practice. Through 2022 she played a key role within an ecumenical team of colleagues from 5 UD colleges to design and accredit a collaborative unit in the history and theologies of the 16th century Reformation. The Cracking of Christendom is on offer from semester 2, 2023.
She has served as Academic Dean at Pilgrim (June – December 2016; January 2018 – 2020 and January – June 2023). She is also secretary of the Religious History Association, and a founding member of the Australian Collaborators in Feminist Theologies. She has been Research Co-ordinator at Pilgrim since January 2021.
- Research Coordinator
Pilgrim Theological College
Teaching disciplinesChurch History; Spirituality
- Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (Member)
- Religious History Association (Secretary)
- Australian Cardijn Institute (Leadership)
- Royal Historical Society (Fellow)