Elissa is a postdoctoral fellow in Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount University who focuses primarily on the spirituality of early modern France. Currently, she focuses on the topic of Jansenism and the Port-Royal nuns. Her dissertation studied the writings of Mother Angélique Arnauld (1591-1661), the reforming abbess of the convent of Port-Royal, to argue for their value as works of theology. In doing so, it also raised questions about women in history in relation to the discipline of theology, the role of experience as a source for theological reflection, and teaching authority in Catholic theology.
She is also interested in the religious history of France, more generally, including church-state relations throughout the history of France (especially the various permutations of Gallicanism and religious issues during the French Revolution), the idea of laïcité, and modern issues surrounding Muslim immigration in France.
In her teaching, she aims to have students make connections between the topics of the course and their own personal experience. As a tool for this, she uses examples from popular culture, especially movies and music, to ask students to interpret and evaluate the religious messages found therein. She is thus very interested in the relationship between religion and popular culture.
As a contributor to WIT, Elissa blogs about things related to her research and teaching interests as well as topics that fall outside of the scope of her academic work. As such, she uses this space to explore ideas, especially in relation to some of her side interests.