This course is a graduate level introduction to significant scholarship in American religious history, from the colonial era to the present. We will meet for regular discussions, focusing on historical interpretations, themes, and conceptualizations, with special attention to sources, argumentation, and methods employed in research and exposition. By the end of the session you will have a solid foundation in the field.
I have carefully selected readings to cover major themes in the historiography of U.S. religion, to expose you to representative works of important scholars, and in sum to constitute a very good starter or reference library of religious history for your bookshelf. Everyone will read all assigned works with care and critical attention, coming to class ready to engage in active discussion. In reading, seek out the book or article's key thesis (and be able to summarize it in a few sentences). Also, you should be alert to its structure and rhetoric, note the claims made for advances over previous studies (relationship to the "literature"), and sketch out the conceptual or theoretical apparatus employed (identifying "keywords" and the ways they are employed). Finally, you should assess the work's evidentiary base, the scope and scale of the study within the context of the issues and events it addresses, and its relationship with other aspects of American history. Analysis of the book in this way prepares you for critical discussion and clear writing. Ideally you should each come to class with several questions written out for us to address as a group; I will have a sizable list of such questions as well, so we should have ample resources to work from.
Book reviews can aid the reading process. Look for them especially in such major journals as the Journal of American History, American Historical Review, Reviews in American History, and H-Net (Humanities Online), along with such specialized journals as Church History, The Catholic Historical Review, American Jewish History, and Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. You can access on-line and hardcopy indexes to journal articles at the library, and many of these journals are available through the Internet or the library Website, particularly through the databases America: History and Life and ArticleFirst. See also general book review indices such as Book Review Digest.
The structure of the course centers on a core book each meeting, thirteen monographs in all. We start on May 28 with introductions to each other and to the course. Then on May 30 we will begin with the first book, by Prothero.
Students will write three 6-8 page papers at regular intervals. The professor will provide students with a question or topic, designed to prepare them for questions of the sort that could appear on a comprehensive exam.
Use 12-point Times Roman or Times New Roman, double-spaced, with 1" margins top and bottom, and 1-1/4" margins right and left, with page numbers in the margin. Style should conform to Turabian standards. Turabian's Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations is widely available at most bookstores and in the reference section of libraries.
Grades for this course will be based 40% on your contributions to class discussion, and 20% each on the book papers.
Prothero, Stephen. American Jesus: How the Son of God Became a National Icon
|Jun 2||Foster, Stephen. The Long Argument: English Puritanism and the Making of New England Culture, 1570-1700|
Butler, Jon. Awash in a Sea of Faith: Christianizing the American People
|Jun 6||Waldman, Steven. Founding Faith: Providence, Politics, and the Birth of Religious Freedom in America|
Albanese, Catherine L. A Republic of Mind and Spirit: A Cultural History of American Metaphysical Religion
Heyrman, Christine L. Southern Cross: The Beginning of the Bible Belt
Wacker, Grant. Heaven Below: Early Pentecostals and American
Sutton, Matthew Avery. Aimee Semple McPherson and the Resurrection of Christian America
Wilson, Charles Reagan. Baptized in Blood: The Religion of the Lost Cause, 1865-1920
Putney, Clifford. Muscular Christianity: Manhood and Sports
in Protestant America, 1880-1920
|Jun 23||Flake, Kathleen. The Politics of American Religious Identity: The Seating of Senator Reed Smoot, Mormon Apostle|
|Jun 25||Best, Wallace D. Passionately Human, No Less Divine: Religion and Culture in Black Chicago, 1915-1952|
Orsi, Robert A. Thank You, St. Jude: Women’s Devotion to the Patron Saint of Hopeless Causes
|Jun 27||Third paper due|
Americans With Disabilities Act: Any student who, because of a disabling condition, may require some special arrangements in order to meet course requirements should contact the instructor as soon as possible to make necessary accommodations. Students should present appropriate verification for Disabled Students Services, Dean of Students Office.
Student Absence for Observation of Religious Holy Days: A student who is absent from classes for the observation of a religious holy day shall be allowed to take an examination or complete an assignment scheduled for that day within a reasonable time after the absence if, not later than the fifteenth day after the first day of the semester, the student had notified the instructor of each scheduled class that the student would be absent for a religious holy day.
The professor reserves the right to change this syllabus at his discretion. Changes will be announced in class and posted at the Web address listed above.
This page was last modified June 09, 2008 03:32 PM