Mainline Moment: On a Mission from God and Secularism

Paul Harvey
Jake and Ellwood BluesI'm sure you're all wondering when the "Mainline Moment" will return. I'll tell you when: next Saturday 4-6 p.m., and Monday, 9 - 11 a.m., and then 4-6 p.m., at the panels below at the American Academy of Religion meeting: with sessions on John Modern's Secularism in Antebellum America, an author meets critics session on our good friend and occasional contributor Tracy Fessenden's landmark book Culture and Redemption, and then a panel I'm chairing on the twentieth-century mainline. Details after the jump break below. See a bunch of you blog readers very soon, I hope, in Chicago; make sure and bring your walking shoes, to get around McCormick Place.

Please feel free to use the comments section here to plug your panel; and check out this post for information on sessions specifically related to Religion in the American West.

Also, our contributor Mike Altman has blogged about his upcoming panel, "Exceeding Boundaries: Approaches to Transnationalism in American Religions," here. And plenty of people will be live-tweeting and blogging panels; personally, I don't "conference-and-drive" like that, but some of these youngsters with their newfangled contraptions can, so have at it.

Anyway, here's the Monday afternoon panel:

Theme: Organization and Resistance: Challenges for the Early Mainline
Paul Harvey, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, Presiding
Monday - 4:00 PM-6:00 PM
In a familiar narrative about the Protestant mainline in America, fissures between leaders and laity opened in the 1960s, sapping institutional strength and resulting in a loss of membership. But the mainline tendency to organize itself in top-down, bureaucratic fashion was problematic from the beginning. Initiatives launched by ecumenical bodies and denominational headquarters frequently met resistance from laity and the rank-and-file clergy as early as the 1910s. These papers re-examine the early history of the Protestant mainline with an eye for negotiations of power, enriching our understanding of the mechanisms of religious “establishment” in America and providing context for the tradition’s later trajectory. Methodologically, the papers attend to the intellectual and theological impulses of elites, the messier realities of religious practice, and the structures linking various mainline constituencies. This is history neither from above nor below, but from the vibrant and contested middle.

Elesha Coffman, University of Dubuque Theological Seminary
“You Can’t Enlist the Laymen”: The Christian Century and the Logic of Mainline Churchliness

Aaron Sizer, Princeton Theological Seminary
Presbyterian Consolidation and the New Era Movement, 1918-1923

Curtis Evans, University of Chicago
Uniting Social Engineering with the Emotional Enthusiasm and the Moral Power of Religious Motivation: The Federal Council of Churches and the Race Problem
Mark Silk, Trinity College

And then, information on the panel about Modern's book Secularism in Antebellum America:

Cultural History of the Study of Religion Group and Religion, Media, and Culture Group
Theme: A Fabulous Rumor: Critical Interpretations of John Lardas Modern’s Secularism in Antebellum America (University of Chicago Press, 2011)
Amy Koehlinger, Oregon State University, Presiding
Monday - 9:00 AM-11:30 AM
John Lardas Modern’s monograph, Secularism in Antebellum America (University of Chicago Press, 2011), offers an experimental account of the secular imaginary at mid-century and the emotion and mood that defined it. Reconsidering the techniques of personal agency, which scholars of secularization have used to mark the modern transformation of religion into proliferative expressions of individual belief, the book proffers that secularism is about something different; it is about “a choice being made before it presents itself as such. Unseen somethings haunting the day.” Secularism manufactured in its own loom a ready-made religiosity of “true religion,” presenting it as common sense, a naturalized reality. This panel considers the implications of that claim for the study of religion, the metaphysics of secularism, and the bodies and materials possessed by both.
Kathryn Lofton, Yale University
Paul Christopher Johnson, University of Michigan
Richard Callahan, University of Missouri
Finbarr Curtis, University of Alabama
Chad Seales, University of Texas
John Lardas Modern, Franklin and Marshall College

And for those (unlike me) who are around Saturday, here are the details for Tracy's session:

 Author Meets Critics: Tracy Fessenden's Culture and Redemption: Religion, the Secular, and American Literature (Princeton University Press, 2007)

Kathleen Flake, Vanderbilt University, Presiding
Saturday - 4:00 PM-6:30 PM
In this session, a handful of scholars critically evaluate the acclaimedCulture and Redemption: Religion, the Secular, and American Literature (Princeton University Press, 2007), with author Tracy Fessenden serving as respondent. There will also be much time for audience conversation about issues raised by this book and where intellectual work in its allied fields is going or should be going.
Arvind Mandair, University of Michigan
Martin Kavka, Florida State University
Ebrahim Moosa, Duke University
Michael McNally, Carleton College
Judith Weisenfeld, Princeton University
Roger Lundin, Wheaton College
Tracy Fessenden, Arizona State University
Business Meeting:
David Watt, Temple University
Julie Byrne, Hofstra University
Books under Discussion


Karen Johnson said…
Welcome to Chicago AAR attendees! I wanted to plug a panel I'm on exploring religion and childhood in Catholic, Morman, and evangelical contexts. The abstract is below:

Preparing the Next Generations: Catholic, Evangelical, and Mormon Youth in the Twentieth Century

Sunday Nov. 18, 1:00-2:30 p.m.
McCormick Place West - 184A

In the early-twentieth century, Catholics, Evangelicals, and Mormons refocused their attention on the religiosity of their youngest adherents. Spurred on by internal transitions and developing ideas about childhood, leaders established new rhetoric, behavioral codes, and youth programs to maintain children’s involvement in their religion. The first paper elucidates how Mormon church leadership and adolescent girls entered into an intergenerational conversation about the evolving theological significance of courtship after the end of polygamy. The second paper articulates how young Catholic children in 1930s Chicago established significant roots for the civil rights movement. The third paper illuminates how evangelical camps after 1945 served as crucial sites for female and male campers to form their religious and gendered identities. These papers reveal how perceptions of childhood and children’s experiences were central components of how religious groups reinvented their religious identities and reenergized their adherents during periods of divisive struggle and transformative change.

Amy DeRogatis, Michigan State University, Presiding

Natalie Rose, Michigan State University, "Ensuring the Future: Mormon Courtship at the End of Plural Marriage, 1890-1920
Karen Johnson, University of Illinois at Chicago, "Race, Religion, and Civil Rights: Catholic Youth and the Push for Interracial Justice in 1930s Chicago"
Rebecca Koerselman, Michigan State University, "Gender Goes Camping: The Construction of Feminine and Masculine Identities in Postwar Evangelical Summer Camps

Susan Ridgely, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, Responding
Curtis J Evans said…
Looks quite interesting.

Popular Posts