Dr Karen O’Donnell

Academic Dean, Lecturer in Worship & Human Community
Tel: 01223 272976
Email: k.odonnell@westcott.cam.ac.uk

Karen is Academic Dean and Lecturer in Worship & Human Community. As Director of Studies, Karen is responsible for ensuring that ordinands and students are getting the most out of their opportunities for learning within their time at Westcott House. She ensures students are on appropriate academic pathways and monitors academic progress. As a lecturer she is focused on providing excellent learning opportunities for students around the themes of liturgy, worship, and community. Karen’s taught courses include TMM1537 Introduction to Christian Worship, BTh32 Patterns in Christian Worship, TMM45520 Christian Worship and Human Community, and MPhil Exercise in Religion and Gender. Karen serves as a member on the Durham and Cambridge Academic Oversight Groups.

After a career as a secondary school teacher, Karen undertook an MA (Notts) and PhD (Exon.) with a doctoral thesis focused on trauma and the Eucharist in relationship to bodies. Following completion of her doctoral studies, she went to Durham University as a Research Fellow with a project focused on digital theology. Karen then moved to Sarum College where she led the MA programme in Christian Spirituality.

Karen’s research interests are interdisciplinary. A feminist theologian, she is interested in the places where bodies and theologies meet. This accounts for her interest in trauma theology where she is concerned with the impact bodily experiences of trauma have on theological imaginations. Similarly, she is interested in liturgy as the embodied outworking of theological ideas and in the ways in which theology and liturgy are entwined within the body. Karen also has an interest in Mary the mother of Jesus and in particular in her embodied life as a woman and a mother.

Away from academic interests, Karen is a keen reader and (very) amateur piano player. She enjoys cooking, yoga, and the bracing fresh air in her beloved homeland of the Peak District.


‘A Feminist Approach to the Marian Temple Type’. New Blackfriars 101, No. 1091 (2020): 29–45.

Broken Bodies: The Eucharist, Mary and the Body in Trauma Theology. London: SCM Press, 2018. Ison, and Megan Warner. London: Routledge, 2019.

‘Eucharist and Trauma: Healing in the b/Body’. In Tragedies and Christian Congregations: The Practical Theology of Trauma, edited by Megan Warner, Christopher Southgate, Carla Grosch-Miller, and Hilary Ison, 182–93. London: Routledge, 2019.

‘Evoking Consent: Feminist Theological Research and the Ethics of Sexual Consent’. In SCM Companion to Feminist Theology, edited by Cath McKinney, Katherine Massam, and Stephen Burns. London: SCM Press, 2022.

Feminist Trauma Theologies: Body, Scripture & Church in Critical Perspective. SCM Press, 2020.

‘Help for Heroes: Warrior Recovery and the Liturgy’. Journal of Religion and Health 54, no. 6 (2015): 2389–97.

‘Mary the Crone’. In From the Shores of Silence:, edited by Ashley Cocksworth, Rachel Starr, and Stephen Burns. London: SCM Press, 2022.

‘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.

‘Reproductive Loss: Toward a Theology of Bodies’. Theology & Sexuality 25, no. 1–2 (4 May 2019): 146–59.

‘Rupture, Repetition and Recovery: The Eucharist and Trauma’. In Ruptured Voices: Trauma and Recovery, edited by Karen O’Donnell, 85–94. Oxford: Inter-Disciplinary Press, 2016.

O’Donnell, Karen, ed. Ruptured Voices: Trauma and Recovery. Oxford: Inter-Disciplinary Press, 2016.

‘Surviving Trauma at the Foot of the Cross’. In When Did We See You Naked? Jesus as a Victim of Sexual Abuse, edited by Jayme R. Reaves, David Tombs, and Rocío Figueroa, 260–77. London: SCM Press, 2021.

The Dark Womb: Re-Conceiving Theology through Reproductive Loss. London: SCM Press, 2022.

‘The Flesh of May and the Body of Christ: Typological and Artistic Depictions of the Marian Priest’. In Representations of the Blessed Virgin Mary in World Literature and Art, edited by Elena V. Shabliy, 3–24. Lexington Books, 2017.

‘The Voices of the Marys: Towards a Method in Feminist Trauma Theologies’. In Feminist Trauma Theologies: Body, Scripture & Church in Critical Perspective, edited by Karen O’Donnell and Katie Cross, 3–20. London: SCM Press, 2020.

‘What Does It Mean to Be Human? A Feminist and Anti-Racist Critique’. Reviews in Religion and Theology, 2018.

‘Women and the Eucharist: Reflections on Private Eucharists in the Early Church’. Feminist Theology 27, no. 2 (January 2019): 164–75.

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