Through a consideration of representative scholarship, we will explore the complex and fascinating world at the intersection of religion and public life in American history. We will particularly probe the "mainstream" and the "periphery" in the public asp
ects of religious life in the United States in order to a)
determine if these two general categories have any useful meaning and,
if so, b) to learn what that might tell us about public
life in the United States generally.
I am assuming that most students have had little, if any, previous work in religion in American history. Therefore, we will deal with the broad sweep of the subject matter primarily through lecture with supplemental discussions initiated by students who h
ave carefully read the assigned material and have a desire to push beyond the surface issues. For all class sessions, students should bring the assigned reading for that week. We will be equally concerned with both substantive and historiographical consid
erations for each week's topic, and for the course as a whole.
Students will write a take-home midterm examination and submit a final analytical and interpretive synthesis of the course materials. (NB: In addition to the assigned reading, "course materials" include the lectures, discussions, and Internet re