New Faculty Spotlight: Who is Katherine Bermingham?

Jessie Catellano, Senior Writer

Meet Katherine Bermingham: born and raised in Massachusetts, she has a strong resume that has landed her first full-time professor gig at the University. She graduated from Georgetown University and got her PhD from The University of Notre Dame — now, she is a professor of Political Theory and American Political Thought this fall semester. 

What led Professor Bermingham to become a professor?

She just finished her PhD program by defending her dissertation in February, 2021. She also taught in graduate school as a TA.

“I’ve known that I wanted to teach since I was a junior in college. I mean there is nothing more exciting to me than reading these texts with folks who are reading them for the first time. You can probably tell I get really excited by what we’re talking about” Bermingham said.

Most of Professor Bermingham’s scholarly research is about female political theorist, Hannah Arendt, who says that political action is acting in concert with other people. 

“In grad school, part of what I was doing was organizing with other folks for gender justice and reproductive rights at Notre Dame. I helped start an organization there called Irish 4 Reproductive Health, which makes safe sex supplies available and advocates for unobstructed access to reproductive health care,” she said. 

They started the program during the Trump administration, which for various reasons made the issues more intense. It was a small way to push back against something she considered meaningful. 

“I loved being able to put my values into the world in a way that was beyond the classroom.

I want my students to understand that in the texts we are reading all of these ‘great thinkers’ disagree with one another about the important questions they deal with. I want them to see the history of political thought more importantly, as not just a collection of dead ideas, but a collection of live ideas that are continuing to animate our understandings of not only our communities, but also ourselves. Hopefully the purpose of reading these texts is not just to understand what someone like Aristotle thinks, but to start to understand the sources of our own attitudes, opinions, and ideas.” Bermingham said.

Despite the challenges higher education has faced in the last year and a half due to the pandemic, Professor Bermingham said her students come into classes with open minds as she provides a positive space for students to engage and share their opinions. 

She is excited to continue providing her students with open classroom discussion and a forward-looking attitude. She’ll be teaching a course on feminist theory in the spring, which will be more focused on her own scholarly research.

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