(but please feel free to come up with your own as well)


1. Take a region or city in a particular period, and look at the role of the Catholic Church in its politics and culture

2. Take a specific controversy within the church - like a fight over an ethnic parish, an academic freedom fight, or a civil liberties issue - and look at what this says about competing ideologies within the church

3. Look at Catholic participation in a major protest movement or upsurge of social activism.

4. Take a Catholic artist, a writer or film-maker, and discuss how their Catholicism informs that person's work, and how it might bring them into conflict with church authorities. Look at censorship fights.

5. Development of Catholic educational institutions and the controversies associated with them.

6. Changing media coverage of the church and church issues.

7. Catholics and the labor movement in a particular period and/or region.

8. Major events in which Catholic and anti-Catholic issues have surfaced particularly, including the presidential elections of 1928 and 1960, debates over the Spanish civil war, etc.

9. Take a prominent convert or apostate (lots of ideas are possible from Allitt's book) and write about why they chose the path they did, towards or away from the church

10. Gender conflicts within the church, especially in the pre-Vatican II period.

11. The impact of Vatican II on everyday life and liturgy in a particular region or parish.

12. Catholic debates over nuclear weapons and pacifism.

13. How a particular fight over desegregation or busing illustrates shifting Catholic debates over race

14. How Catholics succeeded more (or less) than other religious groups in reaching groups like teenagers, young people, etc.

15. Changing Catholic attitudes towards other religions, eg Jews.

16. "Para-church" organizations like the Catholic War Veterans, Holy Name Society, Knights of ColumbusÉ. All of which, incidentally, were very important in mobilizing the anti-Communist crusades of the 1940s-1950s.


I do encourage you to check out the very rich archival materials and libraries that can be found in dioceses within a reasonable distance of State College - major collections include Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Altoona, Harrisburg and Scranton. These collections are usually hospitable to researchers, but it is essential to contact them first to ask permission to visit - this is especially true in smaller collections like Altoona. Some of the runs of Catholic papers (eg the Altoona-Johnstown diocesan paper) are invaluable for covering changing Catholic attitude to social issues and problems.