This is a primary-source analysis course for history/religion majors. Students are asked to approach sacred texts as artifacts from the cultures that produced them. What can the Book of Mormon tell us about Upstate New York in the 1830s? What can the Circle 7 Koran tell us about race in 1930s Chicago? How can historians use religious writings as clues into another culture? Other texts include the writings of Andrew Jackson Davis, L. Ron Hubbard's Dianetics, and Rhonda Byrne's The Secret. Download the Syllabus.
This is a primary-source analysis course for religious studies and history majors. Beginning with the work of Martin Luther, students explore the emergence of secular law in Europe, the theocracy of colonial Massachusetts, debates over establishment in the Early Republican period, and the construction of the First Amendment. The second half of the course is a dive into the paradoxes built into constitutional protections of religion. Download the syllabus.
African American Religions
A primary source analysis course for religious studies and history majors. This course introduces students to the history of African, African American, and Africana religions as practiced in the North American diaspora from 1500 to the present. Students interrogate primary source texts and produce original scholarship based on those primary sources. Download the Syllabus.
This course introduces students to the "big ideas" of twentieth century cultural theory. Students will read, analyze, and discuss works by the Frankfurt School, Judith Butler, Michel Foucault, Nancy Fraser, Benedict Anderson, Simone de Beauvior, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Edward Said, Donna Karaway and many more. For the final project, students, choose one cultural artificat (a song, music video, movie, television show, etc.) and analyze it using the work of three cultural theorists we studied. Download the syllabus.
Religion in Philadelphia
A general education course exploring the religious traditions in and around Philadelphia. Students will be introduced to a variety of religious traditions, including the Quakers, the Mennonites, Roman Catholics, Buddhists, African and African-derived religions, and African American Muslims. Students will also be introduced to key concepts in the academic study of religion, including ethnography, lived religion, textual analysis, and historical criticism.
The Second Great Awakening
When Alexis de Tocqueville visited the United States in 1831, he wrote that “the religious atmosphere of the country was the first thing that struck me.” He arrived at the beginning of an explosion of new religious movements historians call the Second Great Awakening. New religions, like the Mormons and the Seventy-Day Adventists were invented. Millions of Americans held seances in their homes where they communicated with ghosts. American religion and culture changed forever. Students in this course are invited to develop their own answers to the question: what happened to American religion during the Second Great Awakening?
Students in this course are invited into American history from 1945 to 1974. The theme of the course is contingency. Students inhabit crisis points in American history and learn how historical actors make decisions. How would you have handled the Cuban Missile Crisis? If you were Nixon, would you have destroyed the Smoking Gun tape? For the final project, students visit the Urban Archives and produce a primary source analysis based on archival material they find.