HDS 2185

Narratives of American Religion: The Canon and Its Revisions

Catherine Brekus and David Holland


This course will examine the writing of American religious history from the nineteenth century until the present. In the first part of the course, we will trace the creation of an American religious historical “canon.” Readings will include Robert Baird's Religion in America (1844), William Warren Sweet’s The Story of Religions in America (1930) and Sydney E. Ahlstrom’s A Religious History of the American People (1972). In the second part of the course, we will explore the transformation of the field of American religious history since the 1970s. In addition to reading textbooks such as Catherine Albanese’s America: Religion and Religions (1981) and George Marsden’s Religion and American Culture (1990), we will read case studies of new approaches and methodologies. Our goal is to assess the strengths and weaknesses of both the canon and the new religious history that has taken its place.

Enrollment Limited: Limited to 15 students. Instructor's permission required.
Open to BTI Students: Yes
Jointly offered as Religion


0.50 credits
Expected to be offered Spring 2016
Wed 1pm-4pm
Course location to be announced.

Relationship to Program Requirements

Program Requirement Area / Category / Art / Designation
MTS Area(s) of Focus
  • African and African American Religious Studies
  • History of Christianity
  • Religions of the Americas
MDiv Distribution Category/ies
  • Christianity
MDiv Art(s) of Ministry
  • Denominational Polity
Language Course Designation(s) None