History of Modern Christianity: American Encounters, Postmodern Transformations

Spring 2018
MW 8:30 - 9:20am
Area III
MDIV Requirements: 
Permission Not Required
No Limit to Enrollment
Course Description: 

This course focuses on critical moments and important developments in the evolution of US Christian cultures from the European Conquest to the present. While the approach is loosely chronological, it is not intended as a comprehensive survey. This course instead adopts an approach which views religious belief, institutions and practices as central in forging communities and maintaining divisions among peoples and it focuses on moments when religion was an important factor in shaping the political and social order it also reflected. From the initial encounters between native peoples, enslaved Africans and Europeans to the emergence of a new republic after the Civil War, we will look both at the ways various peoples in the “New World” came to define themselves through religion and how dominant actors worked to dominate outsiders by employing differing conceptions of religion.

Course Requirements: 

1) Attendance at lecture and active and informed participation in discussion sections is assumed and expected. Beginning the first full week, students will write a short reflection, question or critical response (around 150 words) on the primary readings, lecture, or assigned secondary reading and post it online in the forum section of classes *v2 the evening before the weekly discussion. Classroom participation is always expected regardless of one’s participation online. Online participation will constitute half of the participation grade. [The entire participation grade will constitute twenty­-five (25) percent of the total grade for the term.]

2) Students will write an eight to ten page analysis of a primary source that engages some theme or issue of significance in the religious history of North America. Students will locate a primary source in an area of interest that could serve as a point of departure for further reflection and then write a brief exploration of its potential significance in American religious history along with a full citation of the text, object or other cultural artifact. For the actual paper, students will place that source in conversation with a relevant cross section of scholarly articles and/or books. Students must include at least three works of secondary scholarship in their analysis with a clear thesis articulated on the first page. [The assignment will constitute thirty (30) percent of the total grade. In order to attain full credit (and not lose half a letter grade), students must turn in the initial exploration paper due in late March.]

3) Midterm Exam: Students will identify and explain the significance of key persons, ideas, events, and institutions. They will also identify particular passages from the course readings and examine how they fit into the authors’ larger arguments. [15% of the final grade]

4) Final Exam: Like the midterm, students will identify and explain the significance of key persons, ideas, events, and institutions while naming and then placing several brief passages from course readings in the context of the authors’ larger arguments. Most of the exam will focus on the second half of the course. [30% of the final grade.]

Basis of Evaluation: 

See Above