The Conference on the History of Women Religious has been great. Yesterday we had a preview of a soon-to-be published document called A Question of Habit: The Curious Image of Nuns in Popular Culture by Dr. Bren Ortega Murphy of Loyola University Chicago. I wrote about A Question of Habit project when it was in its early stages back in 2008 when Dr. Murphy gave a lecture at Loyola.

The documentary is fabulous and Dr. Murphy not only provides an excellent portrayal of women religious in the United States, but she gives a commentary on the fascination of U.S. popular culture with nuns. Examples of this fascination include images of the demonized nun (Nunzilla); the sweet, childish nun (figurine); and the sexualized nun (Areala).

Question of Habit

These images can be found in novelty stores, on TV and in movies, in our kitchens, in advertising, and pretty much all over the place.

For good or for ill, these images dominate what most folks (including Catholics) think about Catholic sisters and nuns.

A few questions for you …

What do you think of these kinds of images? What are both the positive and negative messages that these images convey? What are the images or words you’d use to describe a sister or nun?

UPDATE: Listen to the interview we did with Dr. Bren Ortega Murphy at IGF008.