Call for papers: Conference on the History of Women Religious

Author: Shane Ulbrich

Photo of Corita Kent in front of her art.

Thirteenth Triennial CHWR: Lives and Archives

University of Notre Dame · June 22–25, 2025

The committee for the Conference on the History of Women Religious (CHWR) invites proposals for papers and panels that address the conference theme, “Lives and Archives,” from scholars in the fields of history, theology, sociology, literature, anthropology, gender studies, visual and creative arts, material culture, religious studies, and communications.

The CHWR was founded in 1988 to assist historians in discovering the historical record of vowed Catholic women and to integrate their stories into larger narratives. Today scholars continue to research and write about these women’s lives, including their commitment to justice, human dignity, care for creation, health care, education, and contemplation. We invite scholars, archivists, and researchers to consider the lives and/or archives of women religious. How can women religious, the archivists who preserve their records, and the researchers who study their lives continue to collaborate as bearers of this vital memory? How should the voices of women religious be recorded and archived? What approaches do scholars take when writing histories of women religious? How can congregations prepare for the future of their archival records? What are the opportunities and challenges when writing biographies of women religious? What gaps still exist in the recorded history of the lives and work of women religious? Papers are invited that consider these and other areas of interest related to the broad theme of “lives and archives” of women religious.

Proposal submissions

The CHWR committee invites individual paper proposals as well as group proposals for multi-paper panels. Standard paper presentations are allotted 15–20 minutes each in the conference’s 90-minute panel sessions. Panel proposals should include three or four papers.

The committee also again welcomes proposals for “1,000 Words in a Picture” papers. These short presentations of up to 1,000 words analyze a single image (such as a picture, an artifact, or a document) relevant to the themes of the conference. These papers are presented in special sessions consisting of up to six 10-minute presentations, each followed by 5 minutes for questions.

Proposals for individual papers and “1,000 Words in a Picture” papers should include a one-page abstract (title and 250-word description) and a one-page curriculum vitae. Proposals for multiple-paper panels should include a one-page abstract for each paper and a one-page curriculum vitae for each author.

Funds are available to assist graduate students, early career scholars, and contingent faculty in attending. When submitting your proposal, please indicate that you would like to be considered for such support. Proposals should be submitted by August 15, 2024, using the appropriate form:

Individual paper

Multi-paper panel

“1,000 Words in a Picture” paper

Proposal responses will be issued by October 1, 2024. Invited presenters will be asked to confirm their attendance by November 1, 2024. The conference will take place in-person at the University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Indiana. Details about registration, travel, and lodging will be posted in early 2025 at

Award nominations

The CHWR administers three awards recognizing contributions to the field, presented during the conference: a Distinguished Book Award, Distinguished Scholar Award, and Lifetime Achievement Award. Nominations may be submitted between now and February 1, 2025.

Learn more and submit a nomination

The conference committee

    • Christopher Allison, Dominican University
    • Deirdre Raftery, University College Dublin
    • Molly Gower, Saint Mary’s College
    • Jacqueline Willy Romero, Lanier Technical College
    • Annie Killian, O.P., Ohio Dominican University

Please email or call the Cushwa Center (; 574-631-5441) with any questions.

Image: Sister Corita Kent stands before her work at Immaculate Heart College, Los Angeles, 1957. © 2024 Corita Art Center,, licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.