BY JOHN FEA
I have been counseling several former students recently about graduate school. A few of them want to study American religious history but are unsure whether to pursue graduate work in Religion/Religious Studies or American History. I have tried to explain to them that they could write a dissertation on American religious history in either field (depending, of course, on the program and the availability of an advisor in this sub-field), but their coursework, comps, methodology, and job considerations would be quite different depending on which kind of program they choose to pursue. I have also tried to get them to envision what kind of introductory college-level course they would like to teach regularly--a U.S. History Survey course or an Intro to Religion course (or something comparable). Most of them love American Religious History and have not considered that broad training in their discipline is usually in order if they want to land a job.
I know that our readership (and our contributors) include scholars and graduate students in both History and Religious Studies who share a research interest in American Religious History. I am curious to hear if you were faced with the same dilemma that some of my students are now faced with. How did you decide to go with Religion over History or vice-versa?