Violence, hatred and oppression; sexuality and gender politics; immigration, urbanization and diversity; missions and empire building; solitary reflections and social experimentation; entertainment and consumer culture—the history of religions in the United States is as much about these topics as it is about particular traditions in American history. This introductory course in American religious history will foreground the larger cultural context by emphasizing the undeniable global currents and movements that have shaped, and are shaping, the diverse religious landscapes in the United States. We will also pay close attention to the deep-rooted, and quite pervasive, Protestant influence in this larger cultural milieu by exploring the historical ramifications of conquest and colonization in the birth and expansion of the new nation.
In this course, we will collectively question and challenge the meaning of the term religion and consider alternatives to what we normally think counts as “religious” activities and identities. Besides our engagement with various religious traditions and communities, the class also explores religious forms of expression, solidarity and conflict outside these conventional boundaries.
Course Level: Appropriate for sophomores and above with no experience in the same subject area.
Gary Laderman, Professor of American Religious History and Cultures at Emory University, is the author of Sacred Matters: Celebrity Worship, Sexual Ecstasies, the Living Dead, and Other Signs of Religious Life in the United States (2009), Rest in Peace: A Cultural History of Death and the Funeral Home in Twentieth-Century America (2003), and The Sacred Remains: American Attitudes Toward Death, 1799-1883 (1996). Educated at California State University, Northridge, and University of California, Santa Barbara (MA, PhD), Dr. Laderman serves as a frequent contributor and interview subject for major newspapers, radio shows, and television and documentary broadcasts. He is a founder of the online magazine Religion Dispatches.
Additional sections of this course led by Meredith Doster.
Tue, Thu 11:00am - 12:20pm EDT