About the Workshop

The Religions in America Workshop explores the role of religion in American culture from the colonial period to the present day. This interdisciplinary workshop engages in historiographical, theoretical, and methodological discussions about the place of religion in American life by focusing on issues such as gender, race, consumer culture, economics, the separation of church and state, politics, literature, theology, ethics, and music. While based at the Divinity School, the workshop welcomes scholars from a variety of academic disciplines and departments, including History, English, Sociology, Political Science, Music, Anthropology, and the Law School. Presentations by students, faculty and distinguished guest speakers take place in a relaxed, discussion-oriented environment designed to further the research, inquiry, and knowledge of both presenters and participants alike.

 

Faculty Advisors

 

Curtis J. Evans is an historian of American religions. His teaching interests are modern American religion, particularly since the Civil War, race and religion in US history, and slavery and Christianity. His first book, The Burden of Black Religion (Oxford University Press, 2008), was an historical analysis of debates about the role of religion in the lives of African Americans and the origins of the scholarly category of “the black church.” His research emphases are interpretations and cultural images of African American religion, examinations of religion as a force for and obstacle to social and political reform, and the question of how social problems become defined and addressed as moral problems at particular historical moments. More recently, his research on Billy Graham’s political and social views have led increasingly into teaching courses on and reading more deeply about the rise of the Christian Right and the emergence and history of conservative Protestantism in the US. His current work, A Theology of Brotherhood: The Federal Council of Churches and the Problem of Race (Oxford, forthcoming) brings together a number of his research interests: the FCC’s attempt at social and racial change from the 1920s to the 1940s, the evolution of theological reflections on race, and the concrete and particular circumstances that shape historical actors as they wrestle with the constraints of their social worlds. This narrative is a critical historical evaluation of the FCC’s interracial work as a predominantly white Protestant and ecumenical organization, but also a reflection on the factors that illuminate the prominence of a certain strand of Protestantism in American public life in the early 20th century.

 

William Schultz is a historian of American religion with an interest in the intersection of religion, politics, and capitalism.  Schultz is currently finishing his first book, Jesus in the Rockies: How Colorado Springs Became the Capital of American Evangelicalism (under contract with UNC Press), which explains how the confluence of evangelical Christianity and free-market capitalism transformed the city of Colorado Springs into an epicenter of American conservatism. His next project, The Wages of Sin: Faith, Fraud, and Religious Freedom in Modern America, uses cases of financial fraud between the 1920s and 1990s to explore how Americans have struggled with questions of religious authority and authenticity. Prior to joining the University of Chicago, Schultz was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania and a faculty fellow at Harvard University. He received his B.A. from the University of North Carolina and his Ph.D. from Princeton University.

 

Student Coordinator

Hannah Ozmun is a second-year PhD student in Religions in America. Her research focuses on religion and capitalism in twentieth century America.