Shannen Dee Williams, PhD

Dr. Shannen Dee Williams is the Albert Lepage Assistant Professor of History at Villanova University. A scholar of the African-American experience with research specializations in women’s, religious, and black freedom movement history, Williams is completing her first book, Subversive Habits: Black Catholic Nuns in the Long African-American Freedom Struggle, under contract with Duke University Press. Dr. Williams’s research has been supported by a host of fellowships, grants, and awards, including a Scholar-in-Residence Fellowship at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York City, a Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Fellowship in Religion and Ethics from the Woodrow Wilson National Foundation, a Albert J. Beveridge Grant from the American Historical Association, the Huggins-Quarles Award from the Organization of America Historians, and the John Tracy Ellis Dissertation Award from the American Catholic Historical Association.

A past Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians, Dr. Williams received the Mary Magdalene Award from the Southeast Pennsylvania chapter of the Women’s Ordination Conference in 2020 for her intellectual work in helping to amplify the voices of black Catholic women and girls in church history. In 2018, Williams received the inaugural Sister Christine Schenk Award for Young Catholic Leadership from FutureChurch for using history to foster racial justice and reconciliation in religious congregations of women. In a guest blog published in Patheos in December of 2014, Williams publicly criticized the U.S. Catholic theologians’ statement on racial injustice that initially excluded black women and girls as victims and opponents of state and vigilante violence.