AP History Notes

Posts Tagged ‘conferences’

The Examined Life: An Undergraduate Conference in the Liberal Arts

Art Remillard

Back in 2007, I started an undergraduate conference in religion and philosophy. In the years that have followed, the conference has attracted an astonishing number of participants, traveling in from all over the United States and Canada. Additionally, it has switched locations between here, Westminster College, and Lebanon Valley College.

For the 2016 installment, we decided to extend the focus and have a two day “celebration” of the liberal arts. Appropriately enough, the celebrating starts with an “ethics bowl,” before our friend John Fea delivers the keynote address. In anticipation of his arrival, I will be organizing a course around Professor Fea’s remarkably insightful and accessible Was America Founded As a Christian Nation?

So please circulate this CFP among your students and colleagues. Our website  will be developed throughout the year. And I have been posting items relevant to the conference on our Facebook and Twitter pages. Feel free to follow along.


Call for Papers

The Examined Life
An Undergraduate Conference in the Liberal Arts

Friday and Saturday, March 18-19, 2016
Saint Francis University
Loretto, Pennsylvania 15940
Click HERE for a PDF version of the Call for Papers

We cordially invite undergraduates to submit proposals on topics related to the Liberal Arts—disciplines (and interdisciplinary programs) associated with the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. We encourage traditional paper presentations as well as posters, films, art, poetry, drama, and other forms of creative expression.

While proposals might address any appropriate topic, priority will be given to those related to this year’s theme, “Being Political and the Politics of Being.” At its most obvious, we witness politics in governmental contexts, from presidential primaries and local elections to environmental regulations and foreign policy decisions. Beyond this, though, political discourses shape and are shaped by our daily lives and interactions—at our schools and universities, in the food that we eat, and through our physical and digital landscapes. Additionally, a careful eye sees politics flowing through a range of social forces, to include religion, science, the arts, culture, technology, media, economics, and marketing. At our conference, the scope of “politics” will be limited only by the imaginations of those who attend.

Events will begin on Friday afternoon with an “Ethics Bowl” competition. For further details please contact Dr. Kyle Thomsen (kthomsen@francis.edu). Anyone unfamiliar with this unique philosophical contest can learn more at http://appe.indiana.edu/ethics-bowl/ethics-bowl/.

On Friday evening, the keynote address will be given by John Fea, Professor of American History at Messiah College. His talk will derive from his 2011 book, Was America Founded as a Christian Nation: A Historical Introduction. Professor Fea is the author or editor of four books and his essays and reviews have appeared in a variety of scholarly and popular venues. He blogs daily at http://www.philipvickersfithian.com/.

Student presentations (approximately 20 minutes each) will be on Saturday from 9:00 AM –5:00 PM. Posters, artwork, and other standing pieces will be available in a common meeting area. At the conclusion of the conference, a panel of judges will award the top student performers with cash prizes.

Proposal abstracts (roughly 250 words) are due by February 19, 2016. Please include your full name, title, format (paper, poster, etc.), institution, e-mail, phone number, and the name and contact information of your academic advisor. All paper presentations must be submitted in full by March 4, 2016. Please e-mail proposals and papers to TELUndergradConference@gmail.com.

This conference is open to the public and free for presenters and non-presenters. For more information, please visit our website (https://examinedlifeconference.wordpress.com/) or contact Dr. Arthur Remillard (aremillard@francis.edu).

CFP: Jews of the Americas in Global Perspective

Laura Arnold Leibman
AJHS, NY (Image courtesy of Wikimedia)

Jews of the Americas in Global Perspective

The 2016 Biennial Scholars’ Conference on American Jewish History

Center for Jewish History, New York, NY JUNE 19-21, 2016

The Academic Council of the American Jewish Historical Society in conjunction with the American Jewish Archives, American Jewish Historical Society, and the Center for Jewish History invites proposals via email to AJHSConference2016@gmail.com by November 1, 2015.

The 2016 Biennial Scholars’ Conference on American Jewish History welcomes proposals on all topics related to the American Jewish experience. We especially invite, however, proposals for papers and panels that explore American Jewish history in a global context, drawing on international, transnational, and comparative perspectives. We invite conference participants to conceive of “American Jewish history” as inclusively as possible, encompassing not only the history of Jews in the United States but also that of Jews in the Americas more broadly, from Canada to Latin America to the Caribbean.

By tracing the connections and disjunctions—cultural, familial, political, philosophical, ideological, economic—between American Jews and the wider world, we hope to consider some of the following questions:

  • How can recent scholarly approaches developed in fields such as transnational studies, studies of the Atlantic or Pacific Worlds, and colonial and postcolonial studies recast our understanding of American Jewish history?
  • Conversely, what can American Jewish history, which has long grappled with inherently international issues—such as migration, diaspora, and Zionism—contribute to a broader scholarly conversation about what it means to do history across national borders?
  • What happens when historians place local or regional studies of American Jewish experiences of immigration, industrialization, and urban life, for example, in conversation with scholarship about how such developments played out on an international scale?
  • How does studying the international reception of American Jewish popular culture change how we understand that culture?
  • When we consider American Jewish history in more global perspective, what communities and relationships come into view that might be obscured in histories defined by national boundaries?

The Scholars Conference Committee will gladly consider proposals exploring any aspect of American Jewish history. Papers and panels that explore the conference’s central theme of American Jewish history in global or international perspective are particularly encouraged, as are those that consider people and places traditionally underexamined in American Jewish history (Sephardic Jews; Jews in US colonies and territories; the Caribbean). We will accept proposals for individual papers, but we encourage the submission of complete panel proposals and roundtable presentations. We also encourage nontraditional types of panels, including seminars, performance analysis, and lightening sessions. We also strongly encourage international scholars to apply. Limited travel assistance will be available.

In addition to a full program of panels and plenary sessions, this conference will also feature special sessions designed for the needs of graduate students in the field, including sessions on the digital humanities and grant writing.

All submissions must include a one-page (250 words) paper abstract, short (120 words) bio and contact information (including e-mail address and phone) for each participant, and a specific indication of technological needs. Complete panel proposals are strongly encouraged, and should include a brief rationale for the panel as a whole in addition to the abstracts for each paper. If you are submitting a panel format, please indicate as precisely as possible your plan for the session.

Please send proposals to AJHSConference2016@gmail.com by November 1, 2015.

For more information about the AJHS Academic Council and updates about the conference see ajhsacademiccouncil.org. The Academic Council gratefully acknowledges the support of the Knapp Family Foundation for this conference.

Florida State Graduate Student Symposium 2016

Andy McKee

This will hopefully be of some interest for all graduate student readers. Get your proposals in before endless summer officially ends and save big
Call for Papers:

The Florida State University Department of Religion
15th Annual Graduate Student Symposium 
February 19-21, 2016 • Tallahassee, Florida

The Florida State University Department of Religion is pleased to announce its 15th Annual Graduate Student Symposium to be held February 19-21, 2016 in Tallahassee, Florida.

Last year’s symposium allowed over 50 presenters from over 15 universities and departments such as History, Political Science, Philosophy, Religious Studies, and Classics to share their research, learn from one another, and meet many of their peers and future colleagues.

This year’s symposium will be held under the theme “Religion/Culture”

Dr. Kathryn Lofton, of Yale University, will deliver this year’s keynote address.

Due to our commitment to collaborative scholarship, students from all fields with interdisciplinary interests in the study of religion and at all levels of graduate study are encouraged to submit paper proposals.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to: Church and State; Religion, Law and Politics; Ritual, Practice, and Performance; Religion and Violence; Space and Place Theory; Secularisms; Empires; Sexuality and Gender; Cosmology and Creation Stories; Method and Critical Theory on Religion; Possession and Displacement; and, Comparative Examinations of Religious Groups and Texts.

Presentations should be approximately 15 to 20 minutes in length and will receive faculty responses.  In addition, every year respondents select the best graduate paper to receive the Leo F. Sandon Award, an endowed award named for the Religion Department’s former chair.

Proposals including an abstract of approximately 300 words, a list of key terms, and a one-page CV should be submitted by December 4, 2015 for review.  Final papers must be submitted by January 24, 2016.  Please send proposals to Matthew Coston at <fsureligionsymposium @ gmail.com>

Go to the Urban History Association Meeting Next Year!

Karen Johnson

The call for papers for the annual meeting of the Urban History Association recently went out.  Readers of the blog, there’s room at the UHA for religion in urban and suburban history.  In fact, I think that there should be more crossover between American religious history and urban/suburban history.  Let’s make that happen.  See the call below:

The Eighth Biennial Conference of the Urban History Association
“The Working Urban”
Chicago, Illinois
October 13-16, 2016

The Urban History Association Program Committee seeks submissions for sessions on all aspects of urban, suburban, and metropolitan history. We welcome proposals for panels, roundtable discussions, and individual papers. We are also receptive to alternative session formats that foster audience participation in the proceedings.

The Program Committee is pleased to announce that Loyola University Chicago will serve as the local host for the October 2016 conference.

The conference theme – The Working Urban – highlights the importance of labor and of historians’ working definitions of “urban history.” We therefore encourage submissions that explore the scales at which historians work (i.e. local, national, regional) as well as those that interrogate the racial and gendered aspects of work in relation to the built environment. “Working” also refers to workshops.  For the first time ever, the UHA conference will include professional workshops built specifically around interpreting primary sources and exploring problems of evidence in the field. Innovative workshop ideas are especially encouraged.

Successful panel and paper proposals need not adhere strictly to the conference theme. For instance, being fifty years removed from the 1960s and a century from the Progressive Era, the program committee will also pay special attention to panels marking the anniversaries of events that profoundly impacted cities, including the opening of Margaret Sanger’s first birth control clinic in 1916, the Watts uprising in Los Angeles, the Clean Water Restoration Act of 1966, the Model Cities Program, Martin Luther King’s Chicago campaign, the Supreme Court’s Miranda decision, the founding of the Black Panther Party, and more.

In recognition of urban history’s considerable breadth, we also seek contributions that make global comparisons and explore metropolitan politics in Latin America, Europe, Asia, Australia, the Middle East, and Africa. Sessions on ancient and pre-modern as well as modern periods are welcome.
We prefer complete panels but individual papers will be considered. Please designate a single person to serve as a contact for all complete panels. For traditional panels, include a brief explanation of the overall theme, a one-page abstract of each paper, and a one- or two-page c.v. for each participant. Roundtable proposals should also designate a contact person and submit a one-page theme synopsis and a one- or two-page c.v. for each presenter. Proposals involving alternative formats should include a brief description of how the session will be structured. All those submitting individual papers should include a one-page abstract and a one- or two-page c.v. E-mail submissions by March 1, 2016 to N. D. B. Connolly at nconnol2@me.com and Donna Jean Murch at dmurch@history.rutgers.edu. Submissions should be included in attachments as Word or PDF documents.

Graduate student submissions are especially encouraged. The UHA can assist select graduate students by reimbursing transportation costs to the conference. The association will also organize workshops especially for graduate students writing dissertations in urban and suburban history. Students who wish to participate in a workshop should apply with a two to four page letter of interest by March 1, 2016 to UHA Executive Director Timothy Neary at timothy.neary@salve.edu.

If you’re curious about panels addressing religion from the 2014 conference, go here, if you want to see my conference recap from last year’s conference, go here.  Tim Neary, the executive director, is a historian who has worked on Catholicism in Chicago.  If you’re interested in putting together a panel, please let me know!

Civil Religion in America, etc.

Michael Graziano

Independence Day seems like a good time to talk about that most American of religious studies terms: “civil religion.”
Civil religion has been in my mind since the Fourth Biennial Conference on Religion and American Culture held last month in Indianapolis. The conference was thought provoking—lots of lively discussion and thoughtful exchanges—and you can find recaps of the proceedings by Emily Clark, Craig Prentiss, and Jeffrey Wheatley.
The conference also hosted a conversation on “civil religion.”
As with the rest of RAAC, the panel led to a good discussion. Wendy Wall argued that, with the exception of histories of US foreign relations, talk of civil religion had largely dropped out of ARH. Many were interested in whether civil religion was a “good” or “bad” thing, especially as some in the audience understood civil religion to aid US foreign policies with which they disagreed.
But it quickly became clear that not everyone in the room was on the same page with what was meant by “American civil religion.” Is civil religion a kind of Diet Deism™ in American politics, with all the God Bless Americas and the In God We Trusts? Is it the practice of assigning transcendent value to American nationalism? Perhaps it’s a palpable feeling in the hearts of Americans? Or is civil religion a term used by scholars to describe how people link the status of America to a set of transcendent claims to its authority and power? Or is it something else entirely?

I read Robert Bellah’s 1967 article, “Civil Religion in America,” before I started graduate school and it quickly became a favorite of mine. To a certain extent, it just made sense—I mean, I’d been to the Lincoln Memorial and read the second inaugural carved on the wall of that temple. I’d listened to Dr. King’s speeches. I’d watched the appropriate episodes of The West Wing. I got it. But then I started graduate study, and my easygoing notions of what was religion and what was politics—what was religious, what was secular—disintegrated. And so, listening to the conversation at RAAC, I wondered: why don’t historians of American religion understand “Civil Religion in America”—both Bellah’s article and the idea—as a disciplinary artifact from a time before the field understood religion and politics as co-constituted?
After all, there’s been confusion about what Bellah meant since shortly after the article was published. This is something Bellah noted in 1968: “It is clear that what I mean by ‘civil religion in America’ is not exactly what most of the commentators mean, nor do they agree with one another” (1). While I’m not sure figuring out what Bellah “originally meant” is the most profitable route, the confusion does have bearing on the term’s usage today. Tracing the genealogy of American civil religion often feels like hunting for ghosts in a fog. It can be anything and anywhere, simultaneously everything or nothing. As James Mathisen would write in his 1989 reflection on civil religion, the situation shifted from “What is Bellah writing about?” to “What is Bellah writing about?” (2). Despite all this, I think the term might be useful if we’re clear about how we use it. So, what to do?
If we want to make the term useful as more than a disciplinary artifact, we can use the work of a different Lincoln to think through making American civil religion more analytically useful, especially as a way to think about the relationship between American religion and the study of it. When sketching his of definition of religion, Bruce Lincoln begins by noting that religion involves “a discourse whose concerns transcend the human, temporal, and contingent, and that claims for itself a similar transcendent status” that in turn shapes practices, community identity, and institutions (3). A framework like Lincoln’s gives us a straightforward way to think about civil religion. It also recognizes the way in which civil religion acts as a species of nationalism, one whose authority is explicitly rooted in appeals to transcendence. 
To be clear, many other scholars have used “civil religion” in the way I’m describing. To take only two recent examples, Art Remillard’s Southern Civil Religions (2011) and Ray Haberski’s God and War (2012) both use the term to think about how Americans understood what is, and what ought to be, in relation to ideas of the state and transcendent authority. Yet the conversation at RAAC (both in the room and on Twitter) made clear that not everyone sees the term as a useful one. Mike Altman is certainly correct that civil religion is used to paint over American nationalism. And Kevin Kruse explained that he avoided using the term in his recent book, preferring “religious nationalism” instead. There is ample work for scholars who want to understand why some people use civil religion in lieu of nationalism. To riff on another ongoing conversation stemming from RAAC, this seems to be a perfect example of a genealogical history bursting with people (whether they be scholars, politicians, ministers, or bloggers) building, tweaking, and destroying categories.
If we understand American civil religion as a way to help us clarify our thinking about those who make claims about America rooted in appeals to transcendence, it should be clear that American civil religion applies as much to Dylann Roof, the Confederate flag, and the KKK as it does to the Gettysburg Address or the speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr. There is perhaps something unsettling in realizing that efforts by some Americans to achieve a “new birth of freedom” have long meant a policy of terror and murder directed at those—such as nine African-Americans praying in a Charleston church—who are understood to obstruct those freedoms. If calling this “civil religion” sounds like I’m debasing the term, I suspect that’s because we’ve freighted it with normative baggage that doesn’t make much sense in the study of American religion. In other words, I think civil religion could play a useful role in analyzing American religion, but that sense of the term is not widely employed.
So, for those scholars who think the term continues to be analytically valuable, my question is: why? Why don’t we think of “civil religion” as an earlier attempt by scholars to describe historical claims about America’s place in the world (which relied on religious rhetoric) at a time when the categories “political” and “religious” were seen as more clearly separated than they are now? 
(1) Bellah, Robert N. “Response.” Ed. Donald R. Cutler. The Religious Situation: 1968. Beacon Press: Boston, 1968. 388.
(2) Mathisen, James A. “Twenty Years after Bellah: Whatever Happened to Civil Religion?” Sociological Analysis 50.2 (1989). 137.
(3) Lincoln, Holy Terrors, 5-7.

ASCH: Suddenly Single?

Elesha Coffman

The American Society of Church History has been holding its annual meeting in conjunction with the American Historical Association since at least 1909. Owing to changes in the way AHA relates to its affiliated societies, however, the two groups could part ways in future years. Readers of this blog who attended the meeting in New York City in January likely noticed some differences in the registration procedure and may have heard chatter about an impending split following the Sunday night business meeting. As a member of the ASCH council, I would really like to hear from you all regarding what you think we should do–or, more specifically at this stage, what questions we should ask, and of whom, as the ASCH enters the process of making a decision.

To outline the situation very briefly: Recent policy changes by the AHA will make it more expensive for members of affiliated societies (including ASCH, ACHA, and all of the others listed here) to attend the AHA annual meeting while also giving affiliated societies less control over their portions of the meeting–how many paper sessions they have, where those sessions meet, what kind of displays the societies can set up, and so forth. These changes seem to leave ASCH three basic options: (1) to keep meeting with AHA, though under less congenial terms; (2) to affiliate with a different scholarly society (or societies); or (3) to go it alone and plan its own, separate annual meeting, analogous to though larger than the current ASCH spring meeting.

A survey laying out these options in detail and inviting feedback from constituents will be available later this year. I’m helping draft the survey, and there are some things I want to think more about–and hear from more people about–to try to make sure we get the most useful information from all of the people with a stake in the ASCH’s next move. So here are some of my big questions:

1. Who, besides current, active ASCH members, cares about the ASCH annual meeting? In identifying a target audience for the survey and, by extension, the meeting, obviously ASCH members are in the center. I’d expect the next ring to be populated by folks who typically attend the winter meeting as members of AHA, ACHA, or another affiliated society but drop into an ASCH session or chat with their ASCH friends in the hallways. Are there historians who don’t attend AHA but would like to be in conversation with ASCH members? What about scholars of religion (AAR types) or other fields? Who, in other words, are the ASCH’s current and potential conversation partners?

2. What’s an annual meeting for? There are many answers to this question, and scholars answer it differently at different points in their careers. Job interviews. Book contracts. Book purchases. Presentations to put on the c.v. Professionalization and socialization. Hearing papers that inform research and teaching. What else? Which of these, if taken away, would force a conference off your “to attend” list? Assuming differences in the needs of grad students, early career scholars, and later career scholars, whose needs should ASCH prioritize, and why?

3. For that matter, what’s a scholarly society for? I raised this question back in January, and I don’t feel any closer to an answer. My graduate advisor was deeply invested in the ASCH, and I’ve attended the annual meeting consistently over the past 10 years, so I just assumed it would always be there, doing … whatever it does. I’m getting a clearer picture now that I’m on the council, but I still struggle to articulate what its unique role is or to make a strong sales pitch to the many “members” who don’t pay their dues.

The proliferation of outlets for academic writing makes the journal Church History, while still the gold standard in the field, perhaps less indispensable as a source of information or c.v. lines. The “religious turn” in the field of history means, among other things, that there’s a lot of church history scholarship happening outside the ASCH. The profession is under significant pressure, but ASCH doesn’t involve itself in job placement or advocacy. What does ASCH do that’s compelling enough to convince people to keep paying for it, even if the annual meeting becomes more expensive or less attractive?

If you number yourself among those who have a stake in the course of the ASCH, please share what you think about these questions or suggest other questions to consider. The last thing anyone wants is a repeat of the AAR-SBL divorce. Help us do better.

Fourth Biennial Conference Announced

 Chris Cantwell

Late last week Indiana University Purdue University-Indianapolis’s Center for the Study of Religion & American Culture opened registration for its Fourth Biennial Conference on Religion and American Culture. Like the previous three meetings, this year’s program promises not to disappoint. The gathering will feature panels discussing:

  • What do we mean by “religion” in a time of “spirituality,” “lived religion,” and “non-religion”?
  • Whither New Religious Movements?
  •  American Religion and Global Flows
  •  “Religion in the Americas” as an Organizational Paradigm
  • Religion and Market
  • Religion, Class, and Labor
  • What is the currency of “civil religion”?
  • Liberalism vs. Pluralism as Models of Interpretation
This year the conference will be held on Friday, June 5 and Saturday, June 6, with a reception the night before proceedings start on Thursday, June 4. Hotel rooms at the conference rate are limited, so make sure you register today.

CFP: Material Religion: Embodiment, Materiality, Technology

Lauren Turek

Call for Papers 

Material Religion: Embodiment, Materiality, Technology

An interdisciplinary conference
September 11-12, 2015
Duke University

With support from the Henry Luce Foundation and the Duke University Department of Religious Studies

In 2005, the journal Material Religion began publication. Currently in its tenth year of production, the journal has become an international clearinghouse for research on the material cultures of religions throughout time and around the world as well as a forum for critical discussion and reviews of exhibitions and books related to the study of objects, materiality, images, and the host of practices that give religions their material presence.

Those interested are encouraged to submit proposals for papers addressing any aspect of the three intersecting themes: embodiment, materiality, and technology. The editors of the journal invite submissions in any domain of the investigation of religious material culture from any period of human history.

Please submit an abstract of no more than 250 words and a brief vita (one or two pages) no later than March 15, 2015, to Professor David Morgan, Duke University, david.morgan@duke.edu.

Those whose papers are accepted will need to provide their own travel costs, but food and hotel will be covered for speakers by the conference organizers.

Admission is open to the public and there is no fee for attending the conference.

CFP poster after the break:

A Guide to the Latter Days (of AHA): Remaining #AHA2015 Highlights

Michael Graziano

Since many of us are in New York attending the 2015 AHA Annual Meeting (or following along on Twitter from afar, like myself) I thought I would take a moment to preview some of the interesting panels still to come, and briefly review some of yesterday’s highlights.

One of the most anticipated panels on Saturday was “Futures of the American Religious Past: A Conversation about Mark Noll’s America’s God and John Lardas Modern’s Secularism in Antebellum America.” The panelists (Sonia Hazard, Alexandra Kaloyanides, Dana Logan, and Caleb Maskell) previewed the panel on the blog in October. The excitement has been building ever since:

While I wasn’t able to catch the discussion in person, there were several attendees who generously took the time to live-tweet the panel (side note: thanks!). I’ve collected what I could find in a Storify (available here) or below.

I hope the Storify will help continue the discussion, which is still going strong on social media:

I’m sure there will be more to come about this on the blog, as well.

While the conference may be half-over, there are still a number of promising panels featuring RiAH contributors and friends-of-the-blog. Listed below are panels that may be of interest to readers, including some from the American Catholic Historical Association and American Society of Church History (#ASCH2015) which meet alongside AHA. Also, for a panel preview that focuses on digital history/religion, check out Monica’s recent post here.

If I’ve failed to include a relevant panel or event, please let me know in the comments. If you’ll be in attendance, send out a tweet or two for the rest of us!


American Religion Online: How Digital Projects Can Change How We Teach, Research, and Interpret Religious History
Sunday, January 4, 2015: 9:00 AM-11:00 AM
New York Hilton, Harlem Suite

Chair: John Fea, Messiah College

The American Converts Database: The Database as an Expression of Scholarship on Religious History
Erin Bartram, University of Connecticut

The Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project
Kyle B. Roberts, Loyola University Chicago

Placing Pluralism: Digital Scholarship, Public History, and the Mapping of Chicago’s Religious Diversity
Christopher Cantwell, University of Missouri-Kansas City

Comment: John Fea, Messiah College

Caribbean Catholicism: A Transatlantic Odyssey, 1955–75
American Catholic Historical Association 16
Sunday, January 4, 2015: 9:00 AM-11:00 AM
Madison Suite 4 (Sheraton New York, Fifth Floor)

David Badillo, Lehman College, City University of New York

“An Appropriate Spiritual Mission of the Bishops?” Francis Cardinal Spellman, Bishop James E. McManus, CSSR, and the Relationship of Church and State in the 1960 Puerto Rican Gubernatorial Election
Stephen M. Koeth, CSC, Columbia University

Redemptorists and Vatican II: A Study of the Vice-Province of San Juan, 1965–75
Patrick Hayes, Redemptorist Archives of the Baltimore Province, Brooklyn, New York

“La Conciencia del Gran Miami”: Monsignor Bryan Walsh, Cold War Catholicism, and the Making of a Multiethnic City
Anita Casavantes Bradford, University of California, Irvine

Lillian Guerra, University of Florida

Religion in Public Schools: Church History, Law, Education, and Ethics
Sunday, January 4, 2015: 11:30 AM-1:30 PM
New York Hilton, Hudson Suite

Chair: Candy Gunther Brown, Indiana University Bloomington

That Olde Deluder Reconsidered: The Devil and the Dawn of American Public Education
Charles McCrary, Florida State University

One Hundred Years of the Good Book As Textbook in American Public Schools
Mark Chancey, Southern Methodist University

Narratives of Moral Decline and the Civil Religion of Moral Education
Leslie Ribovich, Princeton University

Comment: Sarah Gordon, University of Pennsylvania Law School

On the Discourses of Secularism and Pluralism
Sunday, January 4, 2015: 11:30 AM-1:30 PM
Sheraton New York, Liberty Suite 5
Co-Sponsor: American Historical Association

Chair: Tisa Wenger, Yale Divinity School

Pluralism, Secularism, and Religious Freedom in the Southern Baptist Convention
Tisa Wenger, Yale Divinity School

Christianization, Colonialism, and the Secular
Pamela Klassen, University of Toronto

Religious Authenticity, Hegemony, and Agency
K. Healan Gaston, Harvard Divinity School

(Dis)establishments and the Paradoxes of American Judaism
Shari Rabin, Yale University

Comment: The Audience

An Aggiornamento of Twentieth-Century Italian American Catholic History
American Catholic Historical Association 19
Sunday, January 4, 2015: 11:30 AM-1:30 PM
Madison Suite 4 (Sheraton New York, Fifth Floor)

Mary Elizabeth Brown, Marymount Manhattan College and Center for Migration Studies

Catholic Political Thought, Modernity, and the Italian Constitution
Rosario Forlenza, Columbia University

The Great Earthquake: Catholics Face a Challenge
Salvatore La Gumina, Nassau Community College

Liberty and Identity: Faith and Art in the Italian American Colonies in the Years of Mass Migration
Marina Loffredo, School of Archival Studies and Paleography, State Archive of Rome

Mary Elizabeth Brown, Marymount Manhattan College and Center for Migration Studies

The Challenge of the Margins: American Women Religious on the Frontier in the United States and Canada
American Catholic Historical Association 20
Sunday, January 4, 2015: 11:30 AM-1:30 PM
Madison Suite 5 (Sheraton New York, Fifth Floor)

Stephanie A.T. Jacobe, independent scholar

“Abandoned for His Love”: Marie de l’Incarnation and Narrative Identity
Mary Corley Dunn, Saint Louis University

Adele Brise: Belgian Catholic Pioneer, Visionary, and Priest
Karen Park, St. Norbert College

The Saint Frances Orphan Asylum: The Oblate Sisters of Providence Mission to Save Orphaned African American Girls
Amy Rosenkrans, Notre Dame of Maryland University

Stephanie A.T. Jacobe, independent scholar

Studying American Religion, Politics, and Foreign Policy All at the Same Time: Where Do We Go from Here? 
Sunday, January 4, 2015: 2:30 PM-4:30 PM
New York Hilton, Hudson Suite

Chair: Andrew Preston, Clare College, University of Cambridge

Raymond Haberski, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
Darryl Hart, Hillsdale College
Christine Leigh Heyrman, University of Delaware
Leo P. Ribuffo, George Washington University

American Evangelicals Looking Abroad
Sunday, January 4, 2015: 2:30 PM-4:30 PM
Sheraton New York, Liberty Suite 5

Co-Sponsor: American Historical Association

Chair: Elizabeth Flowers, Texas Christian University

The Global Apocalypses of Billy Graham
Matthew Avery Sutton, Washington State University Pullman

Seeking to Save the World: American Evangelicals and Global Population Control
David King, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

Remember the Palestinians: Progressive Evangelicals’ Rejection of Christian Zionism and Criticism of American Foreign Policy, 1977–2013
Brantley Gasaway, Bucknell University

“Packed With Joyous People”: Christianity Today, American Foreign Policy, and Christians Abroad
Sarah Ruble, Gustavus Adolphus College

Comment: Seth Dowland, Pacific Lutheran University

The Refugee in Transnational Catholic Social Thought in the Twentieth Century
American Catholic Historical Association 22
Sunday, January 4, 2015: 2:30 PM-4:30 PM
Madison Suite 5 (Sheraton New York, Fifth Floor)

James McCartin, Fordham University

Family Unity, Child Refugees, and the American Catholic Bishops’ Response to the Wagner-Rogers Bill, 1939
Gráinne McEvoy, Boston College

Here Come the Cubans: The American Catholic Church and Their Cold War Refugee Resettlement Efforts, 1960–80
Todd Scribner, Catholic University of America

Migration, Solidarity, and the Italian Church’s Response to the 1991 Albanian Refugee Crisis
Elizabeth Venditto, University of Minnesota Twin Cities

James McCartin, Fordham University


Protestants and Catholics in Colonial New England
Monday, January 5, 2015: 8:30 AM-10:30 AM
New York Hilton, Holland Suite

Chair: Laura Chmielewski, Purchase College (State University of New York)

Contesting the City on a Hill: Puritans, Catholics, and the Visible Church
Abram Van Engen, Washington University in Saint Louis

Rumors of Popery: Massachusetts Bay and the Politics of Restoration Anti-Catholicism
Adrian Chastain Weimer, Providence College

Travel Observations, World Religions, and Anglo-American Protestant Approaches to Catholicism from the Seventeenth to the Eighteenth Century
Mark Valeri, Washington University in St. Louis

Comment: David Hall, Harvard University

Journeying into Evangelicalism: Twenty-Five Years of Traveling with Randall Balmer’s Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory
Monday, January 5, 2015: 8:30 AM-10:30 AM
New York Hilton, Hudson Suite

Chair: Edward J. Blum, San Diego State University

Brantley Gasaway, Bucknell University
Mary Beth Mathews, University of Mary Washington
Anthony Petro, Boston University
Daniel Vaca, Brown University

Comment: Randall Balmer, Dartmouth College

Mapping Religious Space: Four American Cities from the Colonial Era to the Twentieth Century
Monday, January 5, 2015: 11:00 AM-1:00 PM
New York Hilton, Harlem Suite

Chair: Brett Carroll, California State University, Stanislaus

Houses of Worship in the Twin Cities: Using Spatial Mapping to Gauge Interaction among Immigrant Religious Groups, 1849-1924
Jeanne Halgren Kilde, University of Minnesota Twin Cities

Social Networks in Colonial Philadelphia: Using GIS to Map Religious Ties onto Geographic Space
Marie Basile McDaniel, Southern Connecticut State University

Mapping Boston’s Religions from the Revolution to 1800
Lincoln Mullen, George Mason University

Harlem Is Heaven: Utopic Space in the Kingdom of Father Divine
Judith Weisenfeld, Princeton University

Comment: Christopher Cantwell, University of Missouri–Kansas City

Silences in Protestant Autobiography: Exploring Sickness, Sexuality, and Race in American Religion
Monday, January 5, 2015: 11:00 AM-1:00 PM
New York Hilton, Hudson Suite

Chair: Catherine A. Brekus, Harvard Divinity School

Silence, Pain, and the Act of Writing in Eighteenth-Century American Sickness Narratives
Philippa Koch, University of Chicago

“The Subject Is Unusual and Requires Extreme Delicacy”: Sex, Time, and Silence in the Journal of an Early-National Preacher
Seth Perry, Princeton University

Sex and Silence in the League of Nations’ “Enquiry into the Traffic in Women and Children”
Eva Payne, Harvard University

Purposeful Silence: African American Intellectual Tradition in the Autobiography of Adam Clayton Powell Sr.
Vernon Mitchell, Princeton University

Comment: Catherine A. Brekus, Harvard Divinity School

Catholics and 1970s America
American Catholic Historical Association 25
Monday, January 5, 2015: 8:30 AM-10:30 AM
Madison Suite 4 (Sheraton New York, Fifth Floor)

Raymond Haberski, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

Making a Responsible Autonomy: American Catholics and the Turn to Conscience, 1968–80
Peter Cajka, Boston College

The Pope Comes to Buildings on Fire: Pope John Paul II’s First Trip to the United States and 1970s America
Anthony Smith, University of Dayton

From Humanae Vitae to Three Mile Island: Catholic Technocrats and American Culture in the 1970s
Charles T. Strauss, Mount Saint Mary’s University

Raymond Haberski, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

Twentieth-Century Religious Adaptation and Transformation: A Multidisciplinary Examination of Catholicism in the Global Context
American Catholic Historical Association 27
Monday, January 5, 2015: 11:00 AM-1:00 PM
Madison Suite 4 (Sheraton New York, Fifth Floor)

Michael Geyer, University of Chicago

The Sorrowful Mother Stood Weeping: Catholic Women and Total War in Central Europe, 1914–62
Patrick J. Houlihan, University of Chicago

Religious Difference and “The Human Spirit”: French Catholic Orientalism after Secularism
Brenna Moore, Fordham University

Francis I, Evangelical Catholicism, and the Global Struggle over Sexual Ethics
Kimba Tichenor, Kalamazoo College

Michael Geyer, University of Chicago

American Catholic Social Action from the Progressive Era to the New Deal
American Catholic Historical Association 28
Monday, January 5, 2015: 11:00 AM-1:00 PM
Madison Suite 5 (Sheraton New York, Fifth Floor)

Thomas F. Rzeznik, Seton Hall University

Mystical Body Theology Crosses the Atlantic: The Case of Virgil Michel, OSB
Timothy Gabrielli, Seton Hill University

Restoring All Things in Christ: Catholic Social Activity in the Progressive Era
Michael Lombardo, Anna Maria College

Public Opinion from the Pulpit: Catholic and Protestant Responses to FDR’s 1935 “Letter to the Nation’s Clergy”
Julie Yarwood, Catholic University of America

Thomas F. Rzeznik, Seton Hall University

The Irish in Diaspora: Rebuilding Families, Faith, and Identity
American Catholic Historical Association 29
Monday, January 5, 2015: 11:00 AM-1:00 PM
Madison Suite 6 (Sheraton New York, Fifth Floor)

Gráinne McEvoy, Boston College

“Everything Depends on the First Year”: Archbishop Hughes and His Thousand-Dollar Cathedral Donors
Kate Feighery, Archdiocese of New York Archives

Lowly Laborers: Labor on Colonial Monserrat at the Culture Construction of Identity
Nicole Jacoberger, St. John’s University

The Audience

Science and Religion across Time, Space, and Disciplinary Borders
AHA Session 263
Monday, January 5, 2015: 8:30 AM-10:30 AM
Riverside Suite (Sheraton New York, Third Floor)

Ronald L. Numbers, University of Wisconsin–Madison

Magic (Wu), Medicine (Yi), Religion (Jiao), and the Scope of Rationality (Li) in Imperial China
TJ Hinrichs, Cornell University

A Quest for Authenticity: Science and Religion in the Medieval and Modern Middle East
Ahmed Ragab, Harvard University

Modernity’s Enchantments: Science and Religion in Japan and Western Europe
Jason Ānanda Josephson, Williams College

Historicizing the Here and Now: Science and Religion in Modern America
Andrew Jewett, Harvard University

Ronald L. Numbers, University of Wisconsin–Madison

Twentieth-Century Religious Adaptation and Transformation: A Multidisciplinary Examination of Catholicism in the Global Context
American Catholic Historical Association 27
Monday, January 5, 2015: 11:00 AM-1:00 PM
Madison Suite 4 (Sheraton New York, Fifth Floor)

Michael Geyer, University of Chicago

The Sorrowful Mother Stood Weeping: Catholic Women and Total War in Central Europe, 1914–62
Patrick J. Houlihan, University of Chicago

Religious Difference and “The Human Spirit”: French Catholic Orientalism after Secularism
Brenna Moore, Fordham University

Francis I, Evangelical Catholicism, and the Global Struggle over Sexual Ethics
Kimba Tichenor, Kalamazoo College

Michael Geyer, University of Chicago

Sixty Years of Religious Decline? An Interdisciplinary Conversation
American Society of Church History 31
Monday, January 5, 2015: 11:00 AM-1:00 PM
Holland Suite (New York Hilton, Fourth Floor)

J. Tobin Grant, Southern Illinois University Carbondale

Joseph Blankholm, Columbia University
Michael Clawson, Baylor University
Elesha Coffman, University of Dubuque Theological Seminary
Matthew Phillips, Wake Forest University
Benjamin Zeller, Lake Forest College

* Image from Wikimedia.

"Torture as a Factor of Production": Cotton and Capital

Andrew McKee

In the past two semesters I have had the opportunity to take part in two very different courses on capitalism. One course was housed in the always-classy Dodd Hall with Matthew Day, and the other, in the history department at FSU with Alexander Aviña. While differing in book lists (the only overlap was Specters of the Atlantic), and in methodological approach, both courses have prompted me to pay close attention to globalization, economic interests, nation-state creation, and, occasionally, religious studies. In my own research, the weaving together of these historical and historiographic details has been especially productive when thinking about how the influence of capitalist markets loomed large in considerations of empire making and Indian removal in the antebellum America. While these works do not explicitly focus on things “religious,” in my post for today, I want to discuss this focus by referencing three new, and, I think, helpful books on slavery and the ‘Cotton Empire” for teaching and researching (previously discussed at the blog here) at all these different interlocking intersections.

First off, Walter Johnson’s River of Dark Dreams, which encompasses an enormous history of the Mississippi Valley in the first half of the nineteenth century and argues that the systematic creation of a cotton frontier tied to global economy flows created an economic environment that was explosive, lively, and speculative. Johnson’s narrative critiques a vision of the Jeffersonian Republican ideal of the ‘yeoman’ farmer in highlighting the processes in which this vision itself was rooted in speculation, credit, and debt. The south, of which the Mississippi Valley played a defining role, gives Johnson’s narrative a clear focus on the processes by which slave labor and the mono cropping of cotton could and did take hold. Instead of questioning what ‘the South’ was, then, Johnson instead claims to ask, “where southerner’s thought they were going and how they thought they could pull it off in the first place” (16). 

From chapter one through roughly chapter nine, Johnson focuses on the Mississippi River, the language of being ‘sold down river,’ and how the river was ‘scaled up’ in a process that shifting a large percentage of the United States economy to the city of New Orleans by the early 1850s. The potential prosperity to be found along and on the river in visions of grandeur, however, was built on shaky grounds and a fear of unrest. Johnson argues that the Louisiana Purchase was, at least partially, a reactionary movement to the Haitian revolution and the fear of slave rebellion. Likewise, because the very crop upon which planters’ financial well being depended, that is cotton existed on a boom-bust cycle of both crop reliability and selling price, a feeling of unrest undergirded the entire system. Johnson captures this idea best in his overlapping discussion of American literature – in Twain and Melville, specifically – and in his linkage between the entire economic process and steamboat accidents, as he notes, “Danger was built into the boats.” 

The “second half” of Johnson’s work, builds upon this fear of failure that pervaded the Mississippi Valley as steamboats gave way to railroads, slavery increased in its intrastate trafficking, and cotton continued to be thrown into the commercial, global market place. As the Valley became more emblematic of problems associated with the south – under consumption of goods, mono cropping, slave based labor, and debt to outside entities – it, the southern United states, likewise grew more defensive of their institutional weaknesses. To secure their whiteness of a certain kind, however, the elite male planters of the south had to look outward, and indeed, they did so by speculating on the future of potential markets in and coming from the Caribbean. Or, as Johnson highlights in a chapter on William Walker, the assertion of a white racial order of labor rested upon a confidence in cotton, and a certainty of reopening the slave trade outside of the United States. 

The second book, Ed Baptist’s The Half that Has Never Been Told has already heavily discussed elsewhere, so I won’t dwell as long here. In brief, however, Baptist’s argument is based around “The idea that the commodification and suffering and forced labor of African Americans is what made the United States powerful and rich is not an idea that people necessarily are happy to hear. Yet it is the truth” (xxii). This, I think is an especially useful book given the many recent accounts of monsters haunting the country (here and here). If monstrosity is built into the very project of American capitalism as Baptist’s history points to, then how are we to make think about a system where, as he notes further, “we don’t usually see torture as a factor of production” (141).

Third, and, I’ll admit to not having read this one yet because it just came out yesterday, but Sven

Beckert’s Empire of Cotton sounds especially interesting for this conversation, at least judging by the blubs: “The empire of cotton was, from the beginning, a fulcrum of constant global struggle between slaves and planters, merchants and statesmen, workers and factory owners. Beckert makes clear how these forces ushered in the world of modern capitalism, including the vast wealth and disturbing inequalities that are with us today. The result is a book as unsettling as it is enlightening: a book that brilliantly weaves together the story of cotton with how the present global world came to exist.” I’ll update the success of this as soon as I can track down a copy. 

And to end, if all of this has gotten you excited to finish all that grading so you can get retreat back to winter break reading, make sure to first take a minute and submit an abstract to the FSU graduate symposium (or get your students involved) so we can all hang out and talk about all this and more. (The more is Bruce Lincoln and Werewolves).

Cushwa Center Grants and Spring Events

With the end of the fall 2014 semester rapidly approaching (yikes!) I want to take this opportunity to publicize some upcoming grant deadlines, calls for papers, and spring events that will be sponsored by the Cushwa Center, so you can mark your calendars now if you’re within traveling distance. (If you’d like reminders of these events as they approach, you can either write to us at cushwa -at- nd.edu and ask to be put on our mailing list, or follow us on Facebook.)

Speaking of traveling distance: if you don’t live down the block, but would find research in Notre Dame’s extensive archival collections useful for your scholarship, we encourage you to apply for one of our Research Travel Grants, which fund travel to South Bend to work in the Notre Dame University Archives; projects should relate to the study of Catholicism in America. We also administer the Hibernian Research Award, which supports the scholarly study of the Irish American experience. The deadline for all applications is December 31. If you’d like to get a sense of the kinds of projects we sponsor, you might check out our two most recent Q&As: with Suzanne Krebsbach, who came to do research on black Catholics in Charleston, SC, and with Herbie Miller, whose work concerns an 1837 debate between the leader of the Disciples of Christ and the Catholic bishop of Cincinnati.

In other Catholic-centric research grant news, the Mary Nona McGreal OP Center for Dominican Historical Studies at Dominican University is making $2500 research stipends available for essays for an upcoming book project on Dominicans in the 19th and 20th century United States. Deadline for brief proposals is December 1; you can read more about the project here.

If your research on Catholic history has reached a more developed state, please consider submitting a paper or panel proposal to the Spring Meeting of the American Catholic Historical Association, which will be hosted by the Cushwa Center and held at Notre Dame from March 26-28, 2015. You can read more about the conference, and submit a proposal (by January 15) via the above link.

Also on the Cushwa Center’s spring docket are two exciting events: first, a lecture on “Art, Architecture, and Liturgical Space in Postwar America” by Gretchen Buggeln of Valparaiso University, on February 23.

And finally, for those of you whose appetites have been whetted by Michael Hammond’s recent review on this blog, please plan on joining us at Notre Dame for the Seminar in American Religion on Saturday, April 11, when Grant Wacker will discuss his new book, America’s Pastor: Billy Graham and the Shaping of a Nation (Belknap Press, 2014). Also commenting will be Richard Bushman, the Gouverneur Morris Professor of History emeritus at Columbia University, and Christian Smith, the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Sociology and Director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Society at the University of Notre Dame.

We would be delighted to see any of you at any of these events, and please feel free to share the calls for papers and calls for grant applications widely.

Religious Press and Print Culture Conference

Elesha Coffman

I wrote this post early, because today I am at Johann Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany, for a conference on Protestants and the religious press. Logical place for such a conference, don’t you think?

The conference, part of a larger project on “Pluralism, Boundary-Making, and Community-Building in North American Religious Periodicals,” features a mixture of European and American scholars. Keynotes will be offered by David A. Copeland (Elon University), David Paul Nord (Indiana University), Gisela Mettele (Friedrich Schliller-Universitat, Jena), and Candy Gunther Brown (Indiana).

I was thrilled to be invited to this conference, both because I’ve never been to Germany and because I thought the organizers were asking really great questions in their conference description:

“How do we best approach religious print matter, what questions can such studies answer, and which new perspectives might they open up? … What roles play individuals like editors, writers, and financiers in religious print culture? What structures underlie and what networks facilitate the religious press? What can we learn about the internal workings of religious groups? How do religious identities emerge and how are they maintained? How is the religious described and communicated? What strategies are employed to draw boundaries or unite disparate movements? How do different genres function within the context of the religious press? By what strategies are events explained and defined and do they impact the larger culture? What is the interrelation and meaning-exchange between a society and a religious subculture?”

These were the kinds of questions I tried to address in my book on The Christian Century, especially all the parts of the book where I discussed circulation campaigns, staffing concerns, and the magazine’s perpetually precarious financial state. Pleas for funds or new subscribers, I argued, were the places where the Century editors most explicitly articulated their (and, they hoped, by extension their readers’) religious identity. I didn’t explain this angle as well as I could have, however. I distinctly recall the members of my dissertation writing group asking, “Why are we reading about marketing again?” For this conference paper, I’ll pull those parts of the book together and explain why I paid as much attention to the business side of the magazine’s history as to its editorial content.

Because the conference questions also touch on method, let me offer a public service announcement to any of you who do periodical research or advise students doing this type of research: Beware digitization. Yes, it’s really handy to be able to perform a keyword search or pull up a scan of an article on your laptop rather than on a balky microfilm reader. But:

1. Digitization is often spotty. There are articles I know ran in the Century that do not show up when I search for them in the digitized version. Perhaps those issues haven’t yet been scanned, or perhaps the indexing is faulty. Whatever the reason, the material is not all there in the database.

2. Reading a periodical via a database and reading it as a subscriber are radically different experiences. When a subscriber encounters an article, its context is not every other article written by the same author or on the same topic. The context is what came on the page before it and what comes on the page after it, including pictures and ads. If a periodical research project has any reader-response aspects, the researcher has to try to replicate the original reading experience. Find an archive and flip through the actual, crumbling pages.

3. Some qualities of print periodicals simply cannot be captured digitally. Paper stock matters. Trim size and typography matter. Covers matter tremendously. These variations reveal branding strategies, as well as budgetary decisions, all of which link titles to readers with certain tastes and all of the social class connotations that accompany those tastes. Without access to any market research, you can probably tell instantly which airport-kiosk magazines are aimed at readers with higher or lower incomes, higher or lower education levels, older readers, younger readers, men, women, and so forth. Periodicals in other eras might not have been nearly as savvy at branding, but they generally did try to emulate other titles in whatever editors considered their reference group.

You may now return to your regularly scheduled AAR. I’ll not be joining you this year, because, as I might have mentioned, I’m in Germany!

Digital Religious Studies @ AAR 2014

By Chris Cantwell

UPDATE: Just confirmed the final workshop will be Omeka. Updated the note below

Just a few brief announcements for those of you planning on attending the American Academy of Religion’s annual meeting in sunny San Diego at the end of the month. There are a couple of fantastic panels, workshops, and sessions that focus on how technology is rapidly changing the study of religion. So if you’re planning on attending, consider adding some digital humanities to your conference schedule.

First, I wanted to let everyone know about a late addition to the AAR program that may be of interest to many of our readers. On Saturday, November 22 at 12:30pm the Social Science Research Council is sponsoring a roundtable I am leading titled “New Media, New Audiences: Making the Study of Religion Online.” The roundtable is a part of a report Hussein Rashid and I are writing for the SSRC on the study of religion’s new digital landscape and will feature the directors and curators of some of the most innovative born-digital projects out there. Our stellar line up includes:

Secondly, as I’ve announced so many times before, the AAR is hosting its second annual THATCamp–or The Humanities and Technology Camp–on Friday, November 21 from 9am to 5pm. I’ll save you my usual spiel that unlike regular conference meetings THATCamps focus on practical, hands-on discussions of technology’s role in the study of religion over individual presentations of research. I’ll also save you the pitch I typically make on the way campers have significant impact on a camp’s program by proposing–beginning next week!–what sessions will run at THATCamp.

But I did want to let everyone know that just a few slots remain, so if you’re interested in attending head over to the THATCamp AAR 2014 blog and register now. It’s free, and you’re by no means obligated to stay the whole day. But you may want to because I can also now confirm the workshops featured at this year’s camp. A number of sharp scholars have generously donated their time to come lead campers in how to use a variety of tools. You can get the full abstract for these workshops over at the blog, but as a teaser I can tell you that:

Like last year, this year’s THATCamp promises to be a lot of fun. So make sure to follow the THATCamp AAR 2014 blog for the latest news!

The ASCH: Coming to Minneapolis

Jonathan Den Hartog

In the spirit of Cara’s recent post, I’m happy to point out that the American Society of Church History’s Spring 2015 meeting is coming to Minnesota. I copy the full CFP below.

Let me preface it with 3 thoughts.

The Cathedral of St. Paul

1. As a Minneapolis resident, I’m delighted to invite people to the Twin Cities. By April, Spring will have arrived, and issues with snow will be minimal. The Cities (i.e., Minneapolis and St. Paul, together) are a great urban area generally, with lots of green space, high culture, and terrific restaurants. The Cities also offer an opportunity to witness a great deal of religious diversity. There are plenty of Christian sites to visit, from the Cathedral in St. Paul built by Catholic bishop John Ireland to the Basilica in Minneapolis to William Bell Riley’s First Baptist Church to Bethlehem Baptist Church, recently pastored by John Piper. In recent decades, the Cities have also seen a great increase in religious diversity, bringing mosques and Hindu Temples to join older synagogues (including the one featured in the Coen Brothers’ film, A Serious Man). The Cities are also home to many religiously-inspired institutions of higher education, including, among others, Luther Seminary, the University of St. Thomas, Concordia University, the University of Northwestern-St. Paul, Bethel University, and North Central University. Finally, simply by journeying to Minnesota you’ll be encountering the land where, in Garrison Keillor’s words, “All the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.”

2. I heartily concur with Paul that this conference is a great time to expand our consideration of religion in the Midwest. Midwestern history generally is ready for expansion, and Midwestern religious history is a wide-open field (to use an apt metaphor). Perhaps we can generate a “Minnesota Moment” in scholarship.

3. I’ll be at the conference, so if anyone is looking for a chair or commentator for a panel, especially for early American topics, please let me know!

Call for Papers
ASCH 2015 Spring Conference

The Spring Meeting of the American Society for Church History will be held April 16-19, 2015, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The Program Committee invites ASCH members and others to submit paper and session proposals on any aspect of the history of Christianity and its interaction with culture.

The primary theme of the conference is Contact and Exchange among Religious Groups.  We are interested in papers exploring interactions among groups brought on by processes such as migration, immigration, resettlement, exile, and diasporic dispersals across geographic areas and time periods.  Papers that focus on religious groups in conversation with one another, examining influences, hybridity, missionization, conversion, reconversion, cooperation, or other themes or processes, are welcome.

Given the location of this meeting in Minneapolis, we also encourage papers addressing contact among religious groups in Minnesota and the Upper Midwest, including but not limited to immigrant groups arriving in the nineteenth-century, such as Eastern Christians and Copts; those arriving in the early twentieth-century groups, such as Latin Americans; and those arriving in the late twentieth-century immigrants such as Hmong, Somali, and other East Africans. Papers addressing contact and exchange between Native Americans and religious groups are also encouraged.

We welcome individual and group proposals of formal papers, panel and round table discussions, consideration of a major recent book, and other relevant themes and issues. Panels should exhibit diversity of gender, rank, and scholarly location in their composition. We encourage graduate student participation.

Proposals should consist of a submission form and the associated information outlined therein:

•    For individual papers: Submission form, which requires a 500-word summary of the paper and a one-page c.v. or 250-word biographical sketch.
•    For sessions: Submission form, which requires a 500-word thematic abstract, 300-word abstracts for each paper, a one-page c.v. or 250-word biographical sketch, names of proposed chairs and respondents.
•    For panels or roundtable discussion: Submission form, which requires a 500-word session overview, 300-word descriptions of each paper, and a 250-word biographical sketch for each participant.

Submission forms are available at http://www.churchhistory.org/conferences-meetings/

Proposals should be submitted by email to Jeanne Kilde, Program Chair, at jkilde@umn.edu.

The deadline for submitting proposals is December 1.

NOTE: All program participants must register for the conference and be members of the ASCH at the time of the Meeting. Non-members whose proposals are accepted will need to become members.  Graduate students are offered two free years of membership in ASCH.

Daylight Savings Bonus Post: CFP and Conference Announcement Round Up

RiAH has been receiving a number of conference announcements and calls for papers that may be of interest to readers. Since we’ve got an extra hour in our weekend, why not an extra post? Here’s a round up of the latest. Unless there is a link, the full Call For Papers can be found after the jump.

Conference Announcement: Religion and Politics in 21st Century America, November 6, 2014 at Southern Methodist University (Sponsored by the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics at Washington University in St. Louis and SMU Center for Presidential History)

CFP: “Religion and Politics: Governance, Power, and the Sacred,” 8th Annual Religions in Conversation Conference at Claremont Graduate University, February 27-28, 2015 [Proposal deadline November 14, 2014] Full CFP after jump

CFP: Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations Annual Conference, June 25-27, 2015 at Renaissance Arlington Capitol View in Arlington, Virginia [Proposal deadeline December 1, 2014] Full CFP here.

CFP: “Resistance and Religion,” Florida State University Department of Religion 14th Annual Graduate Student Symposium, February 20-22, 2015 [Proposal Deadline: December 15] Full CFP here.

CFP: Tanner Humanities Center, The Specter of Peace in Histories of Violence, August 14-15, 2015 [Proposal Deadline: December 15]. Full CFP after jump
CFP: California American Studies Association Annual Meeting, April 24-25, 2015 at Cal State Fullerton [Proposal deadline: January 15, 2015] Full CFP here.

Conference Announcement: How Do We Study Religion and Emotion?: A Conference at the National Humanities Center, February 19-20, 2015 [Sponsored by the American Academy of Religion and Florida State University] More details after the jump

Call for Papers: “Religion and Politics: Governance, Power, and the Sacred”
February 27th & 28th 2015

The Eighth Annual Religions in Conversation Conference at Claremont Graduate University is currently accepting paper proposals from graduate students of all disciplines related to the theme “Religion and Politics: Governance, Power, and the Sacred.” This year’s conference will explore the tensions and concurrences of religion and politics across a range of academic disciplines. In doing so, we hope to reveal how our understanding of religion within an array of social, cultural, and temporal contexts has been shaped and continues to be shaped by political concerns.

“Never talk about religion or politics” is an adage that no one can actually follow because religion and politics permeate our everyday lives. This becomes particularly apparent when we broaden the category of “politics.” Generally, politics includes those things having to do with the political community. Yet, if the community is a body of citizens who are free to worship whatever they hold sacred, there is a salient need for scholars to study a range of issues concerning politics and religion in their myriad of forms, manifestations, and contexts.

As such, the topic of religion and politics engenders basic but important questions for scholars of religion. For this conference, topics may include, but are in no way limited to: Patriotism and religion; politics within religious institutions; gender and sexual identity politics in religion; freedom and religion; religion and leadership; ethics and politics; regimes and religion; religion, law, and the courts; and the politics behind the study of religion.

Send abstracts of no more than 200 words to conference chair at religion.events@cgu.edu. The subject line should read “Proposal: 2015 Religions in Conversation Conference.” Submission Deadline is November 14th, 2014 and presenters will be notified of their acceptance by the first week of December.

Thanks to CGU’s Religion Student Council, we are pleased to announce that this year’s conference will include awards for the top three conference papers. 1st place will receive $150, 2nd place will receive $100, and 3rd place will receive $50. The 1st place paper will also be published in the Claremont Journal of Religion.

Call For Papers: Tanner Humanities Center, The Specter of Peace in Histories of Violence, August 14-15, 2015

The Tanner Humanities Center is pleased to sponsor a two-day interdisciplinary conference addressing the entangled relationship between peace and violence in the colonial Americas. The conference will define “peace” broadly, framing it as a discourse on governance and as a set of disciplinary practices aimed at shaping, regulating, or limiting violence. Our contention is that scholars underappreciate the importance of peace – both historically and as a category of analysis – to understanding how colonial Americans grappled with the problem of violence and warfare.

This conference will explore more deeply the centrality of peace to the negotiation of violence, the legitimation of authority, and the racial and gendered ordering of the early American frontier. Topics may include, among other things, how American colonists or imperial officials confronted violence as a moral problem; how ideologies of peace informed popular and political debates about violence, warfare, and colonialism; and how peace was woven through the myriad interactions between and among settlers, Native Americans, and people of African descent.  Conference organizers especially welcome papers that attempt to make connections across fields of specialization and to foster new ways of thinking about peace and violence.

The conference will convene on August 14-15, 2015, at the Tanner Humanities Center on the campus of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. Dr. Wayne Lee, professor of history and chair of the Curriculum in Peace, War, and Defense at UNC Chapel Hill, will be the keynote speaker. Some funds will be available for participants’ lodging and travel expenses.

Papers will be pre-circulated and 25-30 pages in length. Participants will be required to submit copies of their papers by July 1, 2015.

For consideration, please submit a 1 page CV and paper proposal of 300-500 words to specterofpeace2015@gmail.com by December 15, 2014. Organizers will contact applicants via email with a decision by January 15, 2015. Questions should be directed to the conference organizers at the email addresses listed below:

Michael Goode, Utah Valley University (mgoode@uvu.edu)
John Smolenski, University of California, Davis (jsmolenski@ucdavis.edu)

How Do We Study Religion and Emotion?: A Conference at the National Humanities Center,
February 19-20, 2015
The surge of interest in the study of religion and emotion is part of a broader “affective turn” currently taking place across the humanities. This conference will gather an international group of scholars to discuss ways of studying emotion in religion and to debate how our querying the very terms that we use to define our endeavors – emotion, affect, feeling, passion, desire, sentiment, and other terms – is crucial to effective deployment of them in investigating religion. The conference is co-sponsored by the American Academy of Religion and Florida State University. For more information contact: emotion.religion@fsu.edu.

Keynote Address
John Corrigan (Florida State University), “How Do We Study Religion and Emotion?”

Diana Fritz Cates (University of Iowa)
Anna Gade (University of Wisconsin at Madison)
M. Gail Hamner (Syracuse)
June McDaniel (College of Charleston)
David Morgan (Duke)
Sarah Ross (Universität Bern)
Donovan Schaefer (Oxford)
Mark Wynn (University of Leeds)

Dispatch from Urban History Association

Karen Johnson

Last weekend I was at the Urban History Associationconference in Philadelphia.  Urban historians today are framing their work in terms of metropolitan areas, and not just urban centers or peripheral suburbs.  They are also seeking to break down urban/suburban dichotomies and emphasize the diversity of the suburbs, as well as the continuities between cities and suburbs.

The panel I was on linked religion with cities and suburbs, and we heard great papers from Peter Borg, a PhD candidate at Marquette University and Erik Miller, a PhD candidate at Case Western Reserve University, and comments from Darren Dochuk of the Danforth Center at Washington University in St. Louis.

My paper on Catholic efforts to integrate Chicago’s suburbs in the 1950s argued that Catholic interracialists imagined suburbs not as bastions of segregation, but as the potential font of true brotherhood.  I explored how they leveraged their networks for their cause and presented integration as the Judeo-Christian thing to do in the face of various iterations of segregationist theologies and attempts to remove religion from the conversation altogether. 

Borg’s paper argued that white flight to the suburbs meant the death of urban white churches.  He traced the slow demise of a white urban congregation in the 1960s in Milwaukee as suburban migrants shifted their allegiances from a denominational urban church to nondenominational suburban churches.  Borg concluded that, in the complicated dynamics of interracial exchanges, the white congregants viewed their new black neighbors not as people to partner with, but as people to pity.  Borg’s paper points to the larger framework of race in America, in which power dynamics of white dominance in interracial interactions are hard to shake.

Building on scholarship on the evangelical left, Miller’s paper considered not those who fled the city, but those black evangelicals and their white supporters who viewed the inner city as a place for social justice to be practiced in the 1970s and 1980s.  Looking at John Perkins and the Christian Community Development Corporation, Miller traced Perkins’s merging of traditional white evangelical values of family, free enterprise, and faith with social justice.  According to Miller, Perkins and his adherents aren’t like liberals who often turn to the government to level the playing field.  Instead they focus on the role of the church.  Miller’s work fills in the gaps of Nancy Wadsworth’s Ambivalent Miracles(check out the RiAH interviews with Wadsworth hereand here) by looking at the evangelicals who merged racial reconciliation with community development.  

But there’s room for more work!  There need to be more panels on religion at the Urban History Association.  As Dochuk pointed out, there’s a rich historiography of urban/suburban issues and religion.  We have historians like John McGreevy (Parish Boundaries: The Catholic Encounter with Race in the Urban North) and Gerald Gamm (Urban Exodus: Why the Jews Left Boston and the Catholics Stayed) to thank for framing the intersection between place, faith, and racial change. But this blog’s field has much more to say to the UHA. Scholars of religion in American history, look to the UHA. 

Registration for THATCamp AAR2014 Now Open!

Chris Cantwell

Gifts awaiting THATCampers
As I announced earlier in the summer, The Humanities and Technology Camp (THATCamp) will be making a return to the American Academy of Religion’s annual meeting. And I’m thrilled to announce now that registration for THATCamp AAR2014 in San Diego is now open! Register here.
For those of you who are not familiar, THATCamps are “unconferences” devoted to considering how technology is changing the way humanists research, teach, and share knowledge. Where most conferences focus on the presentation of prepared research, THATCamps focus upon collaboratively learning new tools and techniques that individuals can take back to their research and teaching. And where selective program committees determine the agendas for most academic conferences, the program of every THATCamp is created by the campers themselves. In the month leading up to our gathering, campers will propose the sessions they’d like to see on the THATCamp AAR2014 blog. First thing we do when we meet is then vote on the sessions that will run that day. To see the sessions AAR THATCampers have proposed before, check out the last year’s blog.
Like last year, THATCamp AAR2014 will be held the day before the AAR’s annual meeting, on Friday, November 21 from 9am-5pm. We’ll also again be treated to coffee through the generous sponsorship of DeGruyter Press. And like last year, THATCamp AAR2014 will feature the typical mix of user-generated sessions mentioned above and pre-planned directed workshops. This year’s workshops will include: 
  • The technical, logistical, and programatic methods of running a podcast on the study of religion.
  • Using Voyant to mine religious texts so you can do the kind of cool visualizations our own Michael J. Altman showed in his recent post on Hindu/Hindoo.
  • A roundtable of nonprofit program officers, journalists, editors, and bloggers who will discuss how the internet and new media provide allow scholars of religion to reach audiences beyond the academy. 

 Spaces is limited, so make sure you head over tothe  THATCamp AAR2014 blog and register today!

Historical Perspectives on War, Peace, and Religion – CFP

Trevor Burrows

The Peace History Society has issued a CFP for their 2015 conference. The conference’s theme is “Historical Perspectives on War, Peace, and Religion,” and will be held at the University of Saint Joseph in West Hartford, Connecticut. The full CFP follows below:

The PEACE HISTORY SOCIETY invites paper proposals for its ninth international conference: Historical Perspectives on War, Peace, and Religion, October 22-24, 2015 at the University of Saint Joseph in West Hartford, Connecticut, U.S.A. The theme focuses on the interrelationships among war, peace and religion. This conference seeks to shed light on the relationship religious traditions and beliefs have had with the making of war and peace in all areas of the world.  We are most interested in papers that take a historical approach to this topic. We welcome panel and paper proposals that compare different historical periods and geographies as well as those that focus on a particular event, person, place or time-period.  Paper proposals about peace history not related to the conference theme will also be considered.

Topics might include but are not limited to: the role religious traditions and figures have historically played in peacemaking ; the historical development of the just war theory and its relationship to religious belief; comparative analysis of the understandings of war and peace within and among particular religious traditions;   historiographical examination of how religious tradition, beliefs, images and performances that have been interpreted in histories of war and peace; exploration of how individuals engage religion to make meaning of their experiences of peace and war.

Limited travel assistance might be available for graduate student presenters.  Strong conference papers will be given consideration for publication in a special issue of the journal Peace & Change to be co-edited by the program co-chairs.  For more information on the PHS and for conference updates, visit the PHS website, at www.peacehistorysociety.org.  Please forward proposals for individual papers or a panel (limit of 250 words per paper) and a one page CV for each participant to both program committee co-chairs by February 1, 2015:

Prudence Moylan
Department of History
Loyola University Chicago


Benjamin Peters
Department of Religious Studies and Theology
University of Saint Joseph

The Histories of American Capitalism

Heath Carter

Registration is now open for Cornell University’s blockbuster conference on the Histories of American Capitalism, scheduled for November 6-8, 2014.  Keynote speakers include Julia Ott (the New School), Richard White (Stanford), Jackson Lears (Rutgers), Orlando Patterson (Harvard), Guy Standing (University of London), Nancy Folbre (Univ. of Massachusetts), and Peniel Joseph (Tufts).

The program is structured thematically, with sections on Built and Natural Environments; Race and Ethnicity; Democracy, State, and Nation; Gender and Sexuality; and Intellectual and Cultural.  That final section will be headlined by Lears’ plenary address on “Capitalism and American Cultural History,” and will include the following panel specifically on Religion:

Chair and Comment: Kevin Kruse, Princeton University

Heath W. Carter, Valparaiso University, “Christianity, Capitalism, and the Power of Working-Class Belief”

Christopher D. Cantwell, University of Missouri-Kansas City, “God’s Foremen: The Evangelical Imperatives of Industrial Management”

William J. Schultz, Princeton University, “The Making of Jesus Springs: Capitalism and Culture War in Colorado Springs”

Katherine Mohrman, University of Minnesota, “A Materialist Spirituality: The Translocation of Political Economy and Sexuality in Mormonism at the Turn of the Twentieth Century”

As I mentioned in a post here back in 2013, the intersection of the new history of capitalism and American religious history is suddenly very busy.  Will be interesting to see how this conference advances the conversation.  More on that to come.  Lodging in Ithaca is in short supply, so if you think you might make it, you should reserve your room sooner rather than later. 

Dispatches from the IUPUI Conference on the Bible in American Life

By Chris Cantwell

One of the conference’s many fine presentations.

As I noted in one of my earlier posts this summer, the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis is wrapping a multi-year study of the Bible in American life. The study began with a survey, continued with an insightful report on the results of the survey, and is concluding with a conference that puts the report’s results in broader historical, sociological, and theological contexts.

Well, the conference wrapped up its final session moments ago and I’m pleased to report it was a success by every measure. A testament to the conference organizer’s efforts, the papers were remarkably diverse. Nearly a hundred attendees heard extended presentations on everything from the first Bible published in America to the latest biblical iPhone apps. Ray Haberski has offered up his own reflections on the conference divergent streams over at the U.S. Intellectual History Blog. But what struck me the about the conference were two very coherent conversations that emerged from these very different papers.

  • Words or the Word? The Bible in American life can take the form of both a specific biblical story as well as symbolic presence. Papers considered not only the ways Bible stories have inspired popular music but also how particular editions or translations of the Bible in toto have anchored specific religious communities.
  • Book Binding. The study of the Bible in American life is the study of power. The resonance scripture has in both its textual and iconic forms has made it a weapon of both the weak and the strong. Even non-Christian groups have plied the Bible for a number of causes, using it to both connect with and critique broader American culture. Social, cultural, and political power is also bound up in the ways race, gender, and class shapes who can interpret scripture and how religious institutions authorize interpretations. But power is also about access, and the ways the Bible has been published, marketed, or distributed also shapes the kinds of power scripture can yield.
I’m certain there are other vital questions and concerns in the study of American scripture, but this is what stood out to me at the conference’s immediate end. I’d welcome other’s thoughts.

The Theological Turn at U. S. Intellectual History

Mark Edwards

Detroit Photographic Co., “Army and Navy [Soldiers and
Sailors] monument, Indianapolis, Indiana,” Library of
Congress, Prints and Photographs Online.

The sixth annual meeting of the Society for U. S. Intellectual History (S-USIH)  will take place October 9-12 at the Omni Severin Hotel in Downtown Indianapolis.  More information can be found here, including the conference schedule which will be forthcoming in the next few weeks.  Readers of RIAH will note a number of familiar names on the program, including Kathryn Lofton, who will be delivering the keynote address on Bob Dylan and the search for belief in history.  Lofton will also be joining the omnipresent Ed Blum and several others on a plenary session, What is U. S. Intellectual History?  If that alone is not worth the price of admission, the conference will host a roundtable on what is being called the “theological turn” in American history.  This panel is the brainchild of Lilian Calles Barger, the author of Eve’s Revenge who just recently completed a wonderful dissertation on liberation theology at UT Dallas.  Joining Barger will be Molly Worthen, K. Healan Gaston, Matthew Hedstrom, and Andrew Finstuen.

Religion at the Urban History Association Conference

Karen Johnson 

This year, the Urban History Association is hosting its seventh biennial conference in Philadelphia from October 9-12.  I’ve put panels that might be of interest to blog readers below, excerpted from the program. 

Session 36: Religion and Migration in the Post-World War II North American City
Lila Corwin Berman, Temple University,“Liberal Judaism and the Creation of Metropolitan Urbanism in Postwar Detroit”

Elaine Pena, George Washington University,“Religion on the Move: Sacred Spatiality and Civic Engagement in Nuevo Laredo”

William Schultz, Princeton University,“The Making of Jesus Springs: Colorado Springs and the New Geography of Evangelicalism”

Commentator & Chair: Sarah Barringer Gordon, University of Pennsylvania

Session 44  Religion, Race, and Suburbanization
Peter Borg, Doctoral Candidate, Marquette University,“Milwaukee’s White Urban Churches in the Age of Suburbanization”

Karen Johnson, Wheaton College,“Religion and Suburban Integration”

Erik Miller, Case Western Reserve University,“The Fields Are Black Unto Harvest:” The Rise of Evangelical Inner City Ministries and the Remaking of Christian Conservatism in the Age of the Religious Right, 1976-1989”

Chair and Commentator:  Darren Dochuk, Washington University in St. Louis

Session 77: Tenant Organizing in the Urban North: Empowering Residents to Improve Housing
Tracy E. K’Meyer,  University of Louisville, “The AFSC and the East Garfield Park Community Union: Organizing for Democratic Communities”

Jeffrey Helgeson, Texas State University-San Marcos, “Fighting Planners’ Blight: Renters, the Black Power Movement, and Urban Development in Chicago”

Charles F. Casey-Leininger, University of Cincinnati,“’Not the Most Dramatic of Slum Properties’: The Standish Apartment Rent Strike, Community Organizing, the Civil Rights Movement, and Civil Unrest in Cincinnati, 1964”

Chair: Amanda Seligman, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Comment:  Brian Purnell, Bowdoin College

For those who want to exercise a little at lunch while learning about religion and the city, check out these tours:

The Woodlands and West Philadelphia

This tour will begin at the Woodlands, the estate (turned cemetery) of early national Philadelphia’s preeminent connoisseur of plants, William Hamilton.  Hamilton’s mansion (ca. 1770-1795) is among the most important works of Federal Style domestic architecture in the United States and makes use of the surrounding landscape in ways reminiscent of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello.  After walking briskly through open areas of the house, we will stroll out into the surrounding Woodlands Cemetery, one of Philadelphia’s first “rural” cemeteries and the final resting place of Thomas Eakins, Paul Cret, and Napoleon III’s dentist.  Proceeding out the front gate, we’ll visit clusters of mid-19thc. suburban villas built on land that once belonged to Hamilton, then make our way to Penn’s campus, where St. Mary’s Church and Hamilton Walk reconnect us to the Hamilton story.

Beyond the Post-industrial City: Camden in Transition
Known nationally as one of the nation’s poorest cities, Camden has struggled for years to overcome structural restraints on its revitalization. Joining historian Howard Gillette, Mayor Dana Redd (invited) and Camden Redevelopment Director Saundra Johnson will point out elements of the city’s renewal, including neighborhood reinvestment in the shadow of an expanding health complex associated with Cooper Hospital, senior housing sponsored by Antioch Baptist Church, and a newly opened Kroc recreational center in East Camden, near a Hope VI site that has been expanded with the cooperation of the St. Joseph’s Carpenter Community Development Corporation.

Revisiting Du Bois’ Seventh Ward
Walk the streets and alleys of the Old Seventh Ward, the neighborhood W.E.B. Du Bois studied for his 1899 classic, The Philadelphia Negro, and learn how the area that was once home to blacks, immigrants, and US-born whites across social classes has become one of Center City’s most expensive residential areas. Led by social worker and planning professor Amy Hillier, director of The Ward: Race and Class in DuBois’ Seventh Ward project, highlights of this walking tour include a visit to Mother Bethel, the first African Methodist Episcopal Church founded by Richard Allen in 1794, and the story behind the painting of the mural “Mapping Courage” honoring Du Bois on South Street. We’ll also hear a tale of murder, participate in a group poetry reading, and look at manuscript census records to learn more about the people of this historic neighborhood. We’ll grab lunch along the way at one of South Street’s many hip take-out restaurants.

The British Association of American Studies Conference, Northumbria University, April 2015

Randall Stephens

1955 was an eventful year on both sides of the Atlantic.  The Brooklyn Dodgers bested the New York Yankees in the World Series, thus giving Billy Joel a line for one of the worst songs ever written, “We Didn’t Start the Fire.” For the first time in their history Chelsea F.C. won the Football League First Division championship. Doubleday published Will Herberg’s Protestant, Catholic, Jew: An Essay in American Religious Sociology. J. R. R. Tolkien rolled out the final in his Lord of the Rings series: The Return of the King. Speaking of Kings, Elvis continued to fill out his Sun Records sessions, with amazing results.  Fellow southerner Billy Graham held his 1955 London crusade at Kelvin Hall and Wembley.

And . . . in that same year a few intrepid academics founded the British Association of American Studies (BAAS) in order to “support and encourage the study of the United States in the Universities, Colleges and Schools of the United Kingdom, and by independent scholars.”  It’s been going strong ever since.

The 60th Anniversary Conference of BAAS will be held at my institution, Northumbria University, between Thursday April 9th and Sunday April 12th 2015.  (The call for papers is here. The Deadline is November 1.)

Plenary speakers include:

• Gary Younge. Author, broadcaster and award-winning columnist for The Guardian and The Nation.
• Dana Nelson. Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of English, Vanderbilt University.
• Sarah Churchwell. Professor of American Literature and Public Understanding of the Humanities, University of East Anglia

My colleague, Joe Street, is putting his shoulder into the organization of the conference.  It’s shaping up to be a good one.  And, if you, like me, have been to BAAS before, you know that it is a rewarding, enjoyable experience. (Along with excellent panels and sessions at the 2007 meeting at the University of Leicester, I distinctly remember watching some tweeded-up profs tear up the dance floor under a disco ball as Pulp’s “Common People” blared over the speakers.  Can’t promise the same this time, but should be a great event nonetheless.) 

Panels and individual papers on a variety of topics—film, religion, literature, history, politics, sociology, and more—are welcome. A growing number of sessions in recent years have covered religious topics. I’d like it if we can continue that trend for the Northumbria University conference.

All said, I’m hoping to see some RiAH readers in the “toon” next spring! (For more on what’s happening in American Studies at Northumbria, see our latest newsletter here.)

THATCamp Returns to the American Academy of Religion

By Chris Cantwell

Last year the American Academy of Religion hosted its first ever THATCamp–or, The Humanities and Technology Camp. By all accounts, it was a huge success. Nearly a hundred people came out to the AAR’s annual meeting a day early to discuss the various ways the Internet and new media is changing how scholars of religion do their work. There were roundtables on envisioning a digital religious studies, discussions about social media in the classroom, and hands-on workshops where attendees learned how to use new tools and software for teaching and research.

Well, I’m thrilled to announce that the AAR will be hosting THATCamp AAR2014 this November in San Diego!

I’ve agreed to sign on and head up THATCamp AAR2014. But as anyone who knows how THATCamps work, no one really “runs” a camp. THATCamps are, at their core, “unconferences.” As opposed to the traditional conference, were the program is set almost a year in advance and features research that is likely even older, THATCamps are intended to meet the current needs of the attendees. Learning happens less through formal presentations and more in hands-on workshops and participant-led discussion sessions. To find out more about how THATCamps and what you can expect to find there, check out the THATCamp home page run by George Mason University’s Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media. To see how THATCamp AAR2013 went, check out the camp’s blog from last year.

This year’s THATCamp is already shaping up to be great. Just to give you a sneak peak of what’s coming, we’ve already confirmed that we’ll have workshops on how to use Voyant (a text mining software) as well as Omeka (a digital exhibit platform). We’re also building a session on how the web can help scholars of religion reach new audiences, as well as a potential workshop on podcasting.

If you’re interested in attending THATCamp AAR2014, the time to register is now. This year, the AAR has incorporated registering for THATCamp into its regular registration for the annual meeting. So if you want to register now, you can follow the instructions on the AAR’s registration page. The THATCampAAR2014 blog will be soon live as well, where you’ll also be able to register. And for all the latest news, you can also follow the THATCampAAR on twitter.

But make sure to mark your calendars for Friday, November 21. Because from 9am-5pm in San Diego, THATCamp AAR2014 will be on!