Elizabeth O’Donnell Gandolfo

Earley Assistant Professor of Catholic and Latin American Studies

Gandolfo is a constructive theologian whose teaching and research interests include the following themes in feminist and Latin American liberation theologies: the place of motherhood in theology and spirituality; the theological and political significance of remembering suffering; and the ecclesiology of Christian base communities in Latin America. Her first book, The Power and Vulnerability of Love: A Theological Anthropology (Fortress, 2015), draws on women’s experiences of maternity and natality to construct a theology of suffering and redemption that is anchored in the reality of human vulnerability. Her most recent publishing project was a co-edited volume entitled Practice and Source for Theology: Mothering Matters (Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming 2017).  She is currently involved in promoting a project that lifts up the historical memory of women in ecclesial base communities of El Salvador.


B.A.,Saint Joseph’s University; M.T.S., University of Notre Dame; Ph.D., Emory University

Religious Affiliation

Roman Catholic

Courses Taught

  • Introduction to Christian Theology
  • Latin American Liberation Theology
  • Mary, Saints, and Martyrs in Latin@ Catholicism: The Politics of Holiness
  • Contemporary Christologies
  • Fierce Landscapes: Listening to the People of Appalachia
  • Whiteness and Christian Theology
  • Dangerous Memories: Theologies and Practices of Remembering Suffering


  • The Power and Vulnerability of Love: A Theological Anthropology, Fortress Press, 2015.
  • Parenting as Spiritual Practice and Source for Theology: Mothering Matters, co-edited with Claire Bischoff and Annie Hardison-Moody. Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming 2017.

Select Journal Articles, Book Chapters, Book Reviews

  • “For What I Have Failed to Do? Finitude, Failure, and the Myth of the Perfect Mother,” in Roberto Sirvent and Duncan Reyburn, eds., Theologies of Failure. Wipf and Stock,  forthcoming.
  • “Encountering God and Being Human ‘Where the Wild Things Are’: Motherhood, Ecofeminism, and Theological Anthropology,” in Louvain Studies, forthcoming 2018.
  • “La Virgen de Guadalupe” and “Comunidades Eclesiales de Base” in Encyclopedia of Christianity in the Global South (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, forthcoming 2018).
  • “Motherhood and the (In)vulnerability of the Imago Dei: Being Human in the Mystical-Political Cloud of Impossibility,” reprinted in Claire Bischoff, Elizabeth O’Donnell Gandolfo, and Annie Hardison-Moody, eds., Parenting as Spiritual Practice and Source for Theology: Mothering Matters. Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming 2017.
  • Review of Abounding in Kindness: Writings for the People of God by Elizabeth A. Johnson. Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology 71/3 (2017).
  • Review of Liberation through Reconciliation: The Christological Spirituality of Jon Sobrino by Ernesto O. Valiente. Spiritus: A Journal of Christian Spirituality 16/2 (Fall 2016).
  • “Motherhood and the (In)vulnerability of the Imago Dei: Being Human in the Mystical-Political Cloud of Impossibility,” in Jenny Daggers and Grace Ji-Sun Kim, eds., Christian Doctrines for Global Gender Justice. Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.
  • Review of Ask the Beasts: Darwin and the God of Love by Elizabeth A. Johnson. Interpretation 69/2 (2015).
  • Review of Ethics: A Liberative Approach by Miguel A. De La Torre. Horizons 42/1 (2015).
  • “A Truly Human Incarnation: Recovering a Place for Nativity in Contemporary Christology,” Theology Today 70/4 (2014).
  • Review of Blessed Are The Consumers: Climate Change and the Practice of Restraint by Sallie McFague. Interpretation 68/3 (2014).
  • “Mary Kept These Things, Pondering Them in Her Heart: Breastfeeding as Contemplative Practice and Source for Theology,” Spiritus: A Journal of Christian Spirituality 13/2 (2013). **N.B.: This article was awarded “Best Article Published in Theology in 2013” by the College Theology Society, June 2014.
  • “Remembering the Massacre at El Mozote: A Case for the Dangerous Memory of Suffering as Christian Formation in Hope,” International Journal of Practical Theology 17/2 (2013).
  • Motherhood, Violence, and Peacemaking: A Practical-Theological Lesson From Liberia,” in Margaret R. Pfeil and Tobias L. Winright, eds., Violence, Transformation and the Sacred: They Shall be Called Children of God. Orbis Books, 2012.
  • “Women and Martyrdom: Feminist Liberation Theology in Dialogue with a Latin American Paradigm,” in Horizons 34/1 (2007).

Select Academic Lectures

  • “San Romero, Risen in the Salvadoran People and Canonized by the Salvadoran People: A Case Study in the Tension between Popular and Ecclesiastical Sainthood,” American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, Roman Catholic Studies Group, November 2016.
  • “Encountering God and Being Human ‘Where the Wild Things Are’:  Maternal Experiences in Dialogue with Ecofeminist Theological Anthropology,” invited keynote address at the international conference “Relation, Vulnerability, and Love: Theological Anthropology in the 21st Century” (final conference of the Anthropos Group), Lueven, Belgium, September 2016.
  • Laudato Si’ and Catholic Social Teaching: The Roots of a Revolutionary Document,” presentation for Wake Forest University School of Divinity’s Food, Faith, and Religious Leadership Initiative’s panel event, “Laudato Si’ (Praised Be!): The Impact of Pope Francis’ Encyclical and Reflections on Our Common Home,” Wake Forest University, October 2015 and Wake Forest University Charlotte Center, February 2016.
  • Women’s Lounge New Book Panel Presentation on The Power and Vulnerability of Love: A Theological Anthropology. American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, Women’s Lounge, November 2015.
  • “To Feel with the Suffering of Christ: San Romero and the Sensus Fidelium,” Catholic Theological Society of America Annual Convention, Selected Session on “The Sensus Fidelium and the Crucified Peoples,” June 2015.
  • “Human Vulnerability and the Negatively Known Humanum: A Challenge to the Theological Anthropology of Edward Schillebeeckx,” SECSOR, Constructive Theologies Section, March 2015.
  • “Encountering God ‘Where the Wild Things Are’: Towards an Eco-Spirituality of Parenting,” American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, Christian Spirituality Group, November 2013.
  • “The Natal Body of Christ: Recovering a Place for Nativity in Christology,” Southeastern Commission for the Study of Religion Regional Meeting, Christology Session of the Constructive Theologies Section, March 2013.
  • “Sorrowful Mothers or Iron Ladies? Liberian Women Peacemakers Subvert the Myth of Maternal Peacefulness,” College Theology Society, Annual Convention, June 2011.
  • “The Dangerous Memory of El Mozote: A Practical Theological Defense of Hope in the Memory of Suffering,” American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, Practical Theology Group, Session on “Rupture, Lament, Suffering and Practical Theology,” November 2010.
  • Acompañando la Vida: The Integration of Catholic Social Teaching and Community-based Education in the Ecclesial Base Communities of El Salvador,” Center for Social Concerns, “From Evangelization to Discipleship” Conference, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN, June 2007.
  • “A Feminist Approach to the Theme of Martyrdom in Latin American Liberation Theology,” Latin American Studies Association Annual Conference, San Juan, Puerto Rico, March 2006.

Professional Affiliations

  • American Academy of Religion
  • Southeastern Commission for the Study of Religion
  • College Theology Society
  • Catholic Theological Society of America


Email: gandoleo@nullwfu.edu

Phone: 336.758.3570

Office: Wingate 113

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