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Dr. Richard Schaefer

Professor of History

I am always impressed by the reciprocal influence teaching and research have on each other. Answering tough questions in the classroom forces me to think more clearly about the questions I bring to my research; and staying current with new research forces me constantly to rethink the material I teach. It is this dynamism that I love most about the profession.

European history is at an interesting crossroads. Not only is Europe itself changing, but so is how we think about it in an increasingly complex global environment. What is particularly exciting right now is how this situation has helped reframe important questions, such as religion. Where formerly assumptions about “secularization” went hand in hand with assumptions regarding modernization, the re-evaluation of the modernization paradigm has helped encourage new approaches to the complex interrelationship between the sacred and secular. This change in perspectives directly informs my current work on the European Catholic revival, and my attempt to formulate a coherent understanding of “Catholic modernity.”


  • Ph.D. Cornell University, 2005
  • M.A. Cornell University, 1999
  • B.A. St. Jerome’s College (Waterloo, Ont.), 1996

Teaching Areas

  • Modern European intellectual history
  • Religion in the modern world
  • Modern German history
  • Representing the Holocaust
  • History and literature
  • Historiography

Research Areas

  • Catholic thought (19th century)
  • History of philosophy


  • “A Critique of Everyday Reason: Johann Michael Sailer and the Catholic Enlightenment in Germany,” Intellectual History Review – forthcoming.
  • “Hopes and Dreams in Fin-de-Siècle Vienna: Brentano, History and the Jews,” Brentano Studien Eds. Guillaume Fréchette and Denis Fisette – forthcoming.
  • “A Genealogy of Protestant Reason,” Archaeologies of Confession: Writing the German Reformation 1517-2017 Ed. David Luebke (Berghahn) — forthcoming.
  • “Brentano’s Philosophy of Religion,” Routledge Handbook of Brentano and the Brentano School Ed. Uriah Kriegel, New York: Routledge, 2016.
  • Uncertainty and the Limits of Culture,” Journal of Religion and Society 17 (2015)
  • “A.D. White and the History of a Religious Future,” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 50.1 (March 2015)
  • “Political Theology and Nineteenth Century Catholicism,” Nineteenth Century Contexts 36.3
  • The Madness of Franz Brentano: Secularization and the History of Philosophy,” History of European Ideas 39.2 (2013).
  • “Memory and Morality,” Explorations in Media Ecology 11.3/4 (2012).
  • “‘Our Direction is Forward not Backward’: German Catholics and the Revolution of 1848,” Selected Papers of the Consortium on the Revolutionary Era, 1750–1850 (2012).
  • “True and False Enlightenment: German Scholars and the Discourse of Catholicism in the Nineteenth Century,” Catholic Historical Review 97.1 (January 2011).
  • “Intellectual History and the Return of Religion,” Historically Speaking 12.2 (2011).
  • “Religion, Culture and the Intellectuals,” Philosophy, Culture, and Traditions 6 (2010).
  • “Let’s Talk About Religion,” Perspectives on History (May 2010).
  • Catholics and the First World War: Religion, Barbarism and the Reduction to Culture,” First World War Studies 1.2 (October 2010).
  • “Restoring Faith in the Humanities: The Return of Religion,” Journal of Contemporary Thought 29 (Summer 2009).
  • “Program for a New Catholic Wissenschaft: Devotional Activism and Catholic Modernity in the Nineteenth-Century,” Modern Intellectual History (November 2007).
  • “Infallibility and Intentionality: Franz Brentano’s Diagnosis of German Catholicism” Journal of the History of Ideas (July 2007).
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