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Faculty of Divinity

Feminist Theology
Trauma Theology
Practical Theology
Eucharistic Theology & Practice


I studied for my undergraduate degree in Politics and Religious Studies at Newcastle University, before embarking on a career as a secondary school teacher of Religious Studies, Philosophy, and Ethics. In 2012, I began studying for an MA in Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Nottingham where I focused my research in the field of Mariology. I was awarded an AHRC Studentship to study for my PhD at Exeter University, producing a thesis entitled "Somatic Memories: Trauma and the (Eucharistic) Body" in 2016. I became a postdoctoral research fellow at Durham University focusing on digital theologies before taking up a post at Sarum College where I was programme leader for the postgraduate courses in Christian Spirituality until June 2022. I became the Director of Studies at Westcott House, Cambridge in September 2022, where I predominantly teach liturgical theology as well as feminist and trauma theologies. 


I am a feminist theologian, particularly interested in the places where bodies and theologies meet. My primary area of work is in the field of trauma theology exploring the impact that the experiences of trauma have on the ways in which theology is shaped and understood. I am especially interested in women's embodied experiences including pregnancy, reproductive loss, menopause etc and how we might think theologically about these bodies. My recent monograph The Dark Womb: Re-Conceiving Theology Through Reproductive Loss offers a ground-breaking constructive approach to theology that brings trauma theology into dialogue with the experience of reproductive loss in order to "re-conceive" our theological imagination. I work particularly in the mode of Constructive Theology, seeking primarily to reimagine what theology might be in the future. 


Key publications: 

Karen O'Donnell and Katie Cross, eds., Bearing Witness: Intersectional Perspectives on Trauma Theology (SCM Press, 2022)

Karen O'Donnell, The Dark Womb: Re-Conceiving Theology Through Reproductive Loss (SCM Press, 2022)

Karen O'Donnell and Katie Cross, eds., Feminist Trauma Theologies: Body, Scripture, and Church in Critical Perspective (SCM Press, 2020)

Karen O'Donnell, Broken Bodies: The Eucharist, Mary and the Body in Trauma Theology (SCM Press, 2018)

Other publications: 

Journal Articles 

  • O'Donnell, Karen. "The Theologian as Dreamer: On Theological Imagination and Human Enhancement." Theology, 124, no. 5 (Oct 2021): 341-348.
  • Cross, Katie, Wren Radford, and Karen O’Donnell. “Fragments from within the Pandemic: Theological Experiments in Silence, Speech, and Dislocated Time.” Practical Theology (January 18, 2021): 1–15.
  • Scott Midson and Karen O'Donnell. "Rethinking Relationships in Cyberspace." Theology and Sexuality, 26, no. 2-3 (October 2020): 83-98.
  • O’Donnell, Karen. “A Feminist Approach to the Marian Temple Type.” New Blackfriars 101, no. 1091 (2020): 29–45.
  • O’Donnell, Karen. “Reproductive Loss: Toward a Theology of Bodies.” Theology & Sexuality 25, no. 1–2 (May 4, 2019): 146–59.
  • O’Donnell, Karen. “Women and the Eucharist: Reflections on Private Eucharists in the Early Church.” Feminist Theology 27, no. 2 (January 2019): 164–75.
  • O’Donnell, Karen. “What Does It Mean to Be Human? A Feminist and Anti-Racist Critique". Reviews in Religion & Theology 25, no. 4 (2018): 604–10.
  • O’Donnell, Karen. “Performing the Imago Dei: Human Enhancement, Artificial Intelligence, and Optative Image-Bearing.” International Journal for the Study of the Christian Church 18, no. 1 (2018): 4–15.

Chapters in Edited Volumes 

Teaching and Supervisions


I currently teach the following courses: 

  • MPhil Gender and Christian Theology Exercise
  • TMM1537 Introduction to Christian Worship (for CTF) 
  • BTh32 Patterns of Christian Worship 
  • TMM44520 Worship and Human Community (MA for CTF)
Research supervision: 

I currently supervise doctoral research students working on trauma theologies, Christian mysticism, masculinities, LGBTQ+ identities, and liturgical theologies. 

I am open to inquiries from students interested in research in any of the following areas: 

  • Feminist theology
  • Womanist theology 
  • Body theologies
  • Trauma theologies
  • Liturgy
  • Digital theologies 
  • Sacramental theologies 
Director of Studies, Westcott House
Dr Karen O'Donnell

Contact Details

Email address: 
Takes PhD students
Available for consultancy



Current students and supervisors can access the Faculty’s Moodle page by clicking on the image below.