Kick-Off Meeting

Hi Everyone,

Welcome back to campus!  We hope you will join us this Thursday, October 8, for our first meeting of the workshop to kick off the new year.  There is no paper scheduled for this introductory meeting.  Come enjoy Medici pizza and salad over lunch (12:00-1:15) while we talk about the goals for the workshop this year and get to know each other better.

Note:  we will be in the Marty Center Library for this meeting, only.  The Marty Center is on the second floor of Swift Hall, next to elevator.  Enter the double doors and walk to the end of the hall.

See you there!

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2015-2016 Call for Papers

The Religions in America Workshop is pleased to announce its

2015-16 Call for Papers

We invite graduate students to submit proposals for work-in-progress, including a dissertation proposal, dissertation chapter, conference paper, article draft, orals exam paper, or new piece of research that engages the broadly construed topic of religion in America. Please send the tentative title, brief description, type of submission, your program/department affiliation, and the month in which you would like to present your work to   Your paper will be due the week prior to the presentation, in order to allow workshop members adequate time to review the paper.

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

We meet on alternate Thursdays from 12:00-1:15 in Swift Hall. When lunch is not provided, we invite you to bring your brown bag to the workshop.

For more information about the Religions in America Workshop, please visit our website

To receive notices about upcoming meetings, you can subscribe to our listserv


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Hello, Workshoppers:
Welcome to the spring quarter! Our first meeting will be a dissertation proposal workshop with Alison Davis. Not only will this be an opportunity for Alison to get some feedback on her proposal, but it will be a chance for students who may be writing their own proposals in the future (like me!) to get some insight into the process. Please invite anyone you know who would find such a meeting helpful.


Dissertation Proposal Workshop with Alison Davis

DATE: Thursday, April 9

TIME: 12:00 – 1:15
PLACE: Marty Center Seminar Room (2nd floor of Swift Hall)
To obtain a copy of Alison’s proposal draft, please email meat
— Kit
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Greetings, fellow workshoppers!

Our next meeting will be Thursday, January 29 and our presenter will be a particularly promising and attractive student named Kit Shields. I kid! But seriously, I am our next presenter. My paper is attached to this email. Here are the deets:

Reading Right and Feeling Right in Uncle Tom’s Cabin
Kit Shields at the Religions in America Workshop
DATE: Thursday, January 29
TIME: 12:00 – 1:15
PLACE: Marty Center Seminar Room, second floor of Swift Hall

Critical for Harriet Beecher Stowe’s project of humanizing her enslaved characters in Uncle Tom’s Cabin is the redemption and reinstatement of a way of thinking that views sympathy, shared experience, and true religion–rather than law, honor, and order, for example–as the basis for a moral society. This heart-centered mode of thought and discourse was, for Stowe and many others in her time, essentially feminine. The virtues of this alternative feminine value system are often illustrated and promoted in scenes depicting different characters reading. I will argue that through scenes of reading, Stowe seeks to show how a masculine value system has allowed slavery to continue, and offers an alternative, feminine value system that would abolish slavery by redeeming sympathetic shared experience as a superior foundation for moral society.

I sincerely hope to see you there. In fact, I hope to see you there more than any of the other times I have said that to you. Please come.


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Dear Workshoppers,
Welcome back from the winter break! Our first workshop of the quarter will be a mock job talk with Paul Chang, co-sponsored by the Global Christianity Workshop. Not only will this be an opportunity to hear about Paul’s work and give him some feedback, also to get some insight into how job talks work. Invite your colleagues!
“The vine… so long that it encircles the globe”:
The Significance of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee in Global Christianity

A mock job talk with Paul Chang

Presented by the Religions in America and Global Christianity Workshops
Date: Thursday, January 15
Time: 12:00 – 1:15
Place: Pick Hall Lounge
The Christian ministers Watchman Nee and Witness Lee are two of the most creative and influential Chinese religious leaders of the 20th century. Their ideas gave rise to a number of movements that now number in the millions, with indigenous leaders on all six continents. I will contextualize their thought by placing it in conversation with the larger traditions of Christian and Chinese thought. I will also offer my working definition of Global Christianity to show how Nee and Lee’s ideas contribute to our understanding of Global Christian phenomena.

Note that we will meet at our usual time, but not in our usual place. Also, there will be no reading distributed prior to this meeting. Please email with any questions.
— Kit
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Hey, y’all!
Our next meeting will be Thursday, November 20. Amber Thomas will be our presenter. See below for a description of her work and the details of our meeting!
Religions in America Workshop with Amber Thomas
Date: Thursday, November 20
Time: 12:00 – 1:15
Place: Marty Center Library (2nd floor of Swift Hall)
“Evangelicals Meet the ‘Me Decade': U.S. Evangelicalism and Cultural Accommodation as Seen through the Urbana Student Missions Conference, 1948-1979″

Beginning in 1948, evangelical campus ministry InterVarsity Christian Fellowship urged multiple thousands of university students to pursue careers in overseas, cross-cultural missions during a triennial conference held at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Celebrated missionaries, scholars, and speakers in the Anglo-American evangelical circuit infused theologically and sociologically grounded appeals with a heavy dose of emotionally stirring rhetoric to support the “call” to the field. Through analysis of Urbana’s keynote addresses, as well as it organizational methods, a shifting ethos from self-denial in the 1940s and ’50s to self-fulfillment in the 1970s can be detected. This change, it seems, mirrored broader trends in postwar U.S. culture, which, according to contemporary essayist Tom Wolfe and later sociologists and historians, produced the radically self-entered 1970s–the “Me Decade.” Though generally portrayed as resisting and combating post-1960 mores and values, certain evangelical networks, as represented by Urbana and InterVarsity, appear to have considered accommodation to be a better strategy.

Please email to obtain a copy of Amber’s paper.


— Kit

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Hi, workshoppers! Here are some details for our next meeting.


Date: Thursday, November 6

Time: 12:00 – 1:15

Place: Marty Center Library (2nd floor of the Swift Hall)



Greg Chatterley will be our presenter. To obtain the reading for this meeting, please email





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Hi, Workshoppers! Here are the details for our next meeting:

Religions in America Workshop
Date: Thursday, October 23
Time: 12:00 – 1:15
Place: Marty Center Library (2nd floor of the Divinity School)

Professor Jane Dailey will discuss her work on human rights language and Christian discourse in the post-WWII civil rights movement. To obtain a copy of the readings for this meeting, please email

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Hello, all!
It’s finally time for our first meeting of the academic year, an opportunity to meet one another, catch up, invite new friends and colleagues, and talk about our plans and goals for the workshop. So mark down these details:

Religions in America Introductory Meeting


Date: Thursday, October 9

Time: 12:00 – 1:15

Place: Swift 200
We will also use this meeting to introduce and discuss some themes and guiding questions for this year’s workshop. We hope these themes will help connect and inform our discussions and presentations. For this meeting, we are distributing five very brief readings (total of about 16 pages) from the journal Historically Speaking. We hope to use these readings to frame a conversation about various methodological approaches to the study of American religion.
Please email me at to obtain the readings. If you are interested in presenting or responding at the workshop this year (or if you know of someone might be), please get in touch with me ASAP.
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Welcome to a new year of workshopping!

Dear workshoppers,

It’s been too long! I hope your summers have struck that ideal balance between “restful” and “productive.” Before we embark on another year of workshoppery, it is necessary to take care of some business. Below you will find important information about this year’s schedule and opportunities to participate in the workshop. If you only read one post  from me this year, please make it this one.


We will meet approximately every two weeks on Thursdays from 12:00 pm until 1:15 pm. These are the dates we plan to meet:

October 9 (introductory meeting), October 23, November 6, November 20, December 4 (PhD application panel), January 15, January 29, February 12, February 26, April 9, April 23, May 14, May 28

Of course, I will remind you of these dates many times in the coming months, but why not mark your calendars now? You can also see these dates on the Schedule page of this very website!

First meeting:

Our first meeting on October 9 will be an opportunity to get to know each other and to talk about plans for the workshop. Additionally, we will introduce and discuss a theme or guiding question for this year’s meetings. We hope this theme will help connect and inform our discussions and presentations. Some time before that first meeting, I will distribute a brief reading that will introduce this year’s theme and get the conversation going.


We are looking for graduate students to present their work at our meetings. If you have (or will have) a dissertation proposal, dissertation chapter, conference paper, article draft, exam paper, or new piece of research that has something to do with religion in America and would benefit from some feedback, please email me at by September 22 with the date or dates on which you are available to present. It is worth noting that workshop presentations can be very informal, workshop discussions are friendly and supportive, and work presented can run the gamut from outlines to rough drafts to final drafts.


In order to get the conversation started at our meetings, we usually like to have someone respond to the week’s reading. Respondents speak informally for 3-5 minutes, highlighting important themes of the reading and raising questions for discussion. If you are interested in being a respondent this year, shoot me an email at–it’s helpful to have a list of people I can ask.

PhD Applicants Panel:

Are you a second-year MA student planning to apply to the PhD program this year? Would you like some feedback regarding your course of study petition? Get in touch with me at! If a few of you are interested, our December 4 meeting will be devoted to discussing your ideas and drafts.

Well, I suppose that’s enough information for one email. If you have any questions, concerns or suggestions, do not hesitate to get in touch with me at This is your workshop, and I want it to serve your needs and interests. Stock up on vitamin D, and I’ll talk to you soon!

— Kit
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