Note: If you have registered for an online course, you will be contacted by email with instructions about how to access the class by Friday, January 26th.
A survey of religion in America from colonization to the present, with an emphasis on the ways religion has shaped American history, culture, and identity. This course is designed to offer students a glimpse at the rich diversity of religious history of the United States. The readings, lectures and virtual field trips will highlight major movements and religious figures that shaped the distinct forms of faith in our society. We will explore the relationship between American culture and its religious life. The course will pay particular attention to the impact religion has had on our nation’s history and inversely how religious traditions have been shaped by their encounter with American culture. After looking at the religious patterns within U.S. history, the course will end by speculating on future forms of American religion in the 21st century.
Balmer, Randall. Thy Kingdom Come: How the Religious Right Distorts the Faith and Threatens America. New York: Basic Books, 2006.
Butler, Jon, Grant Wacker, and Randall Balmer. Religion in American Life: A Short History. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.
Gaustad, Edwin S. Faith of the Founders: Religion and the New Nation, 1776-1826. Waco, Tex.: Baylor University Press, 2004.
Marsh, Charles. God’s Long Summer: Stories of Faith and Civil Rights. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1997.
1) Each student is required to complete the weekly reading assignments including both the lecturer’s written introductions and the postings by the students.
2) Each student is required to participate by making at least two posts of 200-400 words; one on assigned reading or lecturer’s introductions and the other on the fellow students’ postings.
Weekly Schedule of Topics and Readings
* Indicates that there is an audio lecture available on this topic
This on-line course does not require the group to be present in the electronic classroom all at the same time. But it does require weekly participation.
The flow of the class will go somewhat like the following:
On Monday of each week, an introduction to the topic of the week will be posted along with some discussion questions related to the readings of the week. The assigned readings and the introduction should be read by Thursday of that week. Comments should be posted by Saturday and responses to another student's post should be posted by Sunday. All the weekly assignments should be completed by 5 pm of every Sunday. While the conversation from one week to another may overlap but I expect to begin the new topic on Monday. It will require students to keep up with the course schedule.
Native Americans and Early Colonization
Butler, chaps. 1-2
Puritanism in England and America*
Butler, chap. 3
The Great Awakening*
Butler, chaps. 4, 6
Religion and the New Nation*
Butler, chaps. 7-8
Religion and Social Reform in the New Nation*
Butler, chaps. 9-11
The Ideal of Femininity*
Butler, chap. 12
Religion and the Sectional Crisis
Butler, chap. 13
Religion and the Cities*
Butler, chap. 17
Catholics Come of Age*
Butler, chap. 21
Judaism in America*
Butler, chaps. 14, 18
Religion and the Civil Rights Movement*
Butler, chap. 20
Evangelicals, Fundamentalists, and Pentecostals*
Butler, chap. 19
The Rise of the Religious Right
Butler, chaps. 23-24
Assignments and Grading
Bi-weekly reading summaries posted to the website: 30 percent
Mid-term and (non-cumulative) final: 20 percent each
Term paper (15 pages) on some historical topic: 30 percent