2014 Year in Preview (Part Two): Fifty Forthcoming Books in American Religious History

Paul Putz

Back in January, I posted a list of 35 forthcoming books in American religious history. But that list only covered the months from January to June. With this post, I'd like to highlight fifty interesting new books in the field set to be released from June to December. As with my first post, I'm sure that I will miss a worthy book or two (for example, last time I completely overlooked Luke Harlow's new book on race and religion in Kentucky and Patricia Miller's new book on the battle over abortion in the Catholic Church). Feel free to add to my list in the comments, and I can edit the post as needed.

Two quick notes before I launch into the list. First, a number of the authors featured in my January post have received attention for their new books (via interview/review/guest post) from around the web. See, for example:

Second, I encourage you to check out this online forum from IUPUI's Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture. In the forum, Sylvester Johnson, Kathryn Gin Lum, and Rhys H. Williams consider the question "What is 'American' in American Religion?" For the purposes of this blog post, my answer to that question mostly follows Kathryn Gin Lum, who articulated an understanding of "America" as the region that eventually became known as the United States.

(All quotes attributed to individuals come from promotional blurbs found on the publisher's website or Amazon. The books are listed in roughly chronological order based on their tentative month of publication.)

Gastón Espinosa, William J. Seymour and the Origins of Global Pentecostalism: A Biography and Documentary History (Duke, Soon-ish?)

Candy Gunther Brown: "This masterpiece of historical scholarship makes a compelling case for the unparalleled importance of William Seymour and the Azusa Street revivals to the foundational period of U.S. and global Pentecostalism...The book is revisionist history in the very best sense of the term—restoring Seymour to his deserved place as the single most important leader of the early Pentecostal movement."

Christopher Cameron, To Plead Our Own Cause: African Americans in Massachusetts and the Making of the Antislavery Movement (Kent State, June)

From the publisher: "Fleshing out the important links between Reformed theology, the institution of slavery, and the rise of the antislavery movement, author Christopher Cameron argues that African Americans in Massachusetts initiated organized abolitionism in America and that their antislavery ideology had its origins in Puritan thought and the particular system of slavery that this religious ideology shaped in Massachusetts."

Stephen Tabachnick, The Quest for Jewish Belief and Identity in the Graphic Novel (Alabama, June)

From the publisher: "Many Jewish artists and writers contributed to the creation of popular comics and graphic novels, and...Stephen E. Tabachnick takes readers on an engaging tour of graphic novels that explore themes of Jewish identity and belief...Tabachnick delves into the vivid kaleidoscope of Jewish beliefs and identities, ranging from Orthodox belief to complete atheism, and a spectrum of feelings about identification with other Jews..."

Stanley Keith Arnold, Building the Beloved Community: Philadelphia's Interracial Civil Rights Organizations and Race Relations, 1930-1970 (Mississippi, July)

From the publisher: "Inspired by Quakerism, Progressivism, the Social Gospel movement, and the theories of scholars such as W. E. B. Du Bois, Charles S. Johnson, Franz Boas, and Ruth Benedict, a determined group of Philadelphia activists sought to transform race relations...This historical account examines their efforts in three distinct, yet closely related areas, education, housing, and labor."

Zachary McLeod Hutchins, Inventing Eden: Primitivism, Millennialism, and the Making of New England (Oxford, July)

Thomas Kidd: "In this ambitious, deeply researched, and wide-ranging book, Hutchins offers fresh perspective on early New England through an examination of one surprisingly fertile concept: the biblical Eden."

Caroline E. Light, That Pride of Race and Character: The Roots of Jewish Benevolence in the Jim Crow South (New York, July)

Laura Levitt: "This book sings. It is that rare beautiful volume that cuts to the heart of the matter—a groundbreaking, eloquent and meticulously researched book about Southern Jewish culture...Through careful and creative archival inquiry she illuminates the subtle labors of benevolence—the care of 'our own' widows and orphans—as the site where Southern Jews performed Southern gentility and whiteness as a means to achieve their own cultural citizenship."

Michelle A. Gonzalez, A Critical Introduction to Religion in the Americas: Bridging the Liberation Theology and Religious Studies Divide (New York, July)

Maria Pilar Aquino: "A great resource for introducing the interdisciplinary study of religion in the Americas, with a focus on the relevance of the reflected faith experience and religious practices of marginalized populations for the academic study of religion...argues for constructive relationships and collaborative methodologies between theology and religious studies..."

Dawn-Marie Gibson and Jamillah Karim, Women of the Nation: Between Black Protest and Sunni Islam (New York, July)

Richard Brent: "A fascinating and well researched book that expands our knowledge about Islam in the United States. Its analysis of the interactions between the Nation of Islam and mainstream Islam is a model for the scholarship on African American Islam. Anyone who wishes to understand the complex religious identities of contemporary African-American Muslim women should read this book."

Heather Miyano Kopelson, Faithful Bodies: Performing Religion and Race in the Puritan Atlantic (New York, July)

Vincent Brown: "This is a fascinating and important new perspective on the body of Christ in early America. With meticulous research and illuminating insight, Kopelson reveals the chain of associations that bound religious communities and colonial societies to an emerging Protestant ethos committed to defining and disciplining corporeal life. Finally, we have a satisfying account of the Puritan attitude to race and sex."

Christopher M. Rios, After the Monkey Trial: Evangelical Scientists and a New Creationism (Fordham, August)

Anthony Petro: "...prompts us to revise our understanding of evangelicals and evolution since the Scopes trial of 1925, when evangelicals earned a reputation as combative and anti-intellectual. His careful study adds a wonderful cast of characters to the history of religion and science that recovers the rich, if complicated history of evangelical scientists' participation in and negotiation with scholarship on evolution."

Linford Fisher, J. Stanley Lemons, Lucas Mason-Brown, Decoding Roger Williams: The Lost Essay of Rhode Island's Founding Father (Baylor, August)

From the publisher: "Near the end of his life, Roger Williams...scrawled an encrypted essay in the margins of a colonial-era book. For more than 300 years those shorthand notes remained indecipherable...Decoding Roger Williams reveals for the first time Williams' translated and annotated essay, along with a critical essay..."

Sally Howell, Old Islam in Detroit: Rediscovering the Muslim American Past (Oxford, August)

Karen Leonard: "This book challenges almost everything we thought we knew about the early history of Muslims in Detroit and beyond, transforming our understanding of the American Muslim past and present...Howell provides particularly significant material relating to gender issues, African American Sunnis, and the recurring criticism of, and then accommodation to, Muslim American institutions by successive cohorts of Muslim immigrants."

Jeff Wilson, Mindful America: The Mutual Transformation of Buddhist Meditation and American Culture (Oxford, August)

Jan Willis: "In this well-honed study, Jeff Wilson explores the mindfulness movement in the context of modern American religion and culture. As he does so, we are invited to reflect upon the multi-faceted phenomena of religious transformation, appropriation, and commodification of old world meditation techniques and new world realities. An engaging and enlightening read."

Robert Wuthnow, Rough Country: How Texas Became America's Most Powerful Bible-Belt State (Princeton, August)

Darren Dochuk: "...offers a conclusive account of how and why Texas has so profoundly defined modern American religion and politics. From his exhaustive research in a sweeping range of sources, he draws out one illustrative character and colorful anecdote after another, and combines them with incisive analysis of sociological data to create a compelling portrait of the Lone Star State's ascent."

Matthew McCullough, The Cross of War: Christian Nationalism and U.S. Expansion in the Spanish-American War (Wisconsin, August)

Harry Stout: "As McCullough shows in rich detail, the Spanish-American War marked the critical juncture where American foreign policy instincts shifted from isolationism to interventionism. He proves this transition could not have taken place without the active role of churches and clergy in explaining to Americans, paradoxically, how they could be imperialistic and altruistic at the same time."

Tash Smith, Capture These Indians for the Lord: Indians, Methodists, and Oklahomans, 1844-1939 (Arizona, September)

From the publisher: "In Capture These Indians for the Lord, Tash Smith traces the trajectory of the Southern Methodist Church in Oklahoma when it was at the frontlines of the relentless push of western expansion...Throughout, Smith explores the complex relationships between white and Indian community members and how these phenomena shaped Methodist churches in the twentieth century."

Josiah Ulysses Young III, James Baldwin's Understanding of God: Overwhelming Desire and Joy (Palgrave MacMillan, September)

From the publisher: "...covers James Baldwin's life from his mid-teens to his death through accounts and analyses of his essays and novels. Sometimes his 'theology'-what he has to say about his 'God'-comes straight from his text; other times Young deduces it from his non-fiction prose and the implications of his novels and their protagonists. Josiah Young places those works in the context of several historic events that were taking place in the United States at that time."

Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, A Ministry of Presence: Chaplaincy, Spiritual Care, and the Law (Chicago, September)

Courtney Bender: "Fantastic and provocative. Sullivan takes readers into new territory where we can consider American religion and social life from a new angle. Her strong authorial voice keeps the many moving parts together and makes A Ministry of Presence a pleasure to read.”

Deborah Dash Moore, Urban Origins of American Judaism (Georgia, September)

Beth Wenger: "This fascinating study of urbanism and American Judaism offers an insightful portrait of the ways that the rhythms of city life shaped the religious practices of American Jews. Examining synagogues, city streets, and photographs, Deborah Dash Moore has changed our understanding of the evolution of American Judaism."

Brian C. Wilson, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg and the Religion of Biologic Living (Indiana, September)

From the publisher: "Rather than focusing on Kellogg as the eccentric creator of corn flakes or a megalomaniacal quack, Brian C. Wilson takes his role as a physician and a theological innovator seriously and places his religion of 'Biologic Livin'' in an on-going tradition of sacred health and wellness...traces the development of this theology of physiology from its roots in antebellum health reform and Seventh-day Adventism to its ultimate accommodation of genetics and eugenics..."

Roberto Ramón Lint Sagarena, Aztlán and Arcadia: Religion, Ethnicity, and the Creation of Place (New York, September)

Sally Promey: "...demonstrates how various political, cultural, and commercial interests reimagined California's Spanish religious past in order to diminish its Mexican and indigenous present. Mining mission revival architecture, the mural movement, popular literatures, public festivals, and international expositions, this illuminating volume charts the invention, and reinvention, of an 'American' California."

Kathryn Gin Lum, Damned Nation: Hell in America from the Revolution to Reconstruction (Oxford, September)

Ed Blum: "Damned Nation is damned good and its contributions are legion...This book signals a new and evocative voice in the realm of American religious history, one that is not afraid to entertain its dark sides." [NOTE: This gets my vote for "blurb of the year"]

Claudia Stokes, The Altar at Home: Sentimental Literature and Nineteenth-Century American Religion (Pennsylvania, September)

Nancy Bentley: "This is an excellent book—well researched, innovative, and beautifully written. Claudia Stokes shows a mastery of both literary sentimentalism and religious history, which she uses to bring out compelling new insights about what it meant for women to draw on sentimental codes as they forged new ways of participating in religious culture and public discussions."

Leilah Danielson, American Gandhi: A.J. Muste and the History of Radicalism in the Twentieth Century (Pennsylvania, September)

Doug Rossinow: "a major work in the history of twentieth-century American radicalism...it will be indispensable to those interested in the history of the modern American left, to those interested in the history of pacifism and nonviolence, and to those interested in the intersection of religion and dissent in twentieth-century America."

Ann Marie Plane, Dreams and the Invisible World in Colonial New England: Indians, Colonists, and the Seventeenth Century (Pennsylvania, September)

Susan Juster: "With a fresh interpretation of an understudied phenomenon, this book makes important contributions to the history of cultural contact, the history of lived religion in Puritan New England, gender studies, and the nascent field of history of the emotions and interior states of subjectivity."

Benjamin T. Lynerd, Republican Theology: The Civil Religion of American Evangelicals (Oxford, September) 

From the publisher: "[The New Right's] libertarian ethos combined with restrictive public moralism is conflicted...Still, it has formed the entire subtext of evangelical participation in American politics from the 1770s into the twenty-first century. Lynerd looks at the evolution of evangelical civil religion, or 'republican theology' to demonstrate how evangelicals navigate this logic."

Janice W. Fernheimer, Stepping Into Zion: Hatzaad Harishon, Black Jews, and the Remaking of Jewish Identity (Alabama, October)

From the publisher: "...considers the question “Who is a Jew?"...chronicles the group’s successes and failures within the larger rhetorical history of conflicts that emerge when cultural identities shift or expand...offers 'interruptive invention' as a framework for understanding and changing certain dominant discourses about racial and religious identity..."

Grant Wacker, America's Pastor: Billy Graham and the Shaping of a Nation (Harvard, October)

From the publisher: "More than a conventional biography...deepens our understanding of why Billy Graham has mattered so much to so many....Wacker paints a richly textured portrait: a self-deprecating servant of God and self-promoting media mogul, a simple family man and confidant of presidents, a plainspoken preacher and the 'Protestant pope.'...reveals how this Southern fundamentalist grew, fitfully, into a capacious figure at the center of spiritual life for millions of Christians around the world."

Matthew Avery Sutton, American Apocalypse: A History of Modern Evangelicalism (Harvard, October)

From the publisher: "The first comprehensive history of modern American evangelicalism to appear in a generation...shows how a group of radical Protestants, anticipating the end of the world, paradoxically transformed it...document[s] the ways an initially obscure network of charismatic preachers and their followers reshaped American religion, at home and abroad, for over a century..."

Brantley W. Gasaway, Progressive Evangelicals and the Pursuit of Social Justice (North Carolina, September)

Martin Marty: "...the 'go-to' book on this subject. Fair-minded, comprehensive, well organized, and accessible, the story opens up to many tantalizing topics. Against all odds, these progressives, while they did not prevail, they endured, had many victories, and eclipsed the many better known mainline Protestants in American public life. These progressives did find ways to cohere, witness, and have impact. This is not a story of a final victory, but one with a kind of suspense."

Gregory M. Pfitzer, History Repeating Itself: The Republication of Children's Historical Literature and the Christian Right (Massachusetts, October)

From the publisher: "Recently publishers on the Christian Right have been reprinting nineteenth-century children’s history books and marketing them to parents as 'anchor texts' for homeschool instruction. Why...would books written more than 150 years ago be presumed suitable for educating twenty-first-century children? The answer..."

Anne M. Martinez, Catholic Borderlands: Mapping Catholicism onto American Empire, 1905-1935 (Nebraska, October)

Terry Rugeley: "...explores U.S. Catholic intellectuals’ response to the Mexican Revolution and its anticlerical campaigns through the career of Father Francis C. Kelley...Anne Martínez is able to chart the success (and failure) of religion as a motivator in foreign policy while questioning the degree to which that religion transcends national boundaries and cultures."

T.J. Tomlin, A Divinity for All Persuasions: Almanacs and Early American Religious Life (Oxford, October)

From the publisher: "...analyzes the pan-Protestant sensibility distributed through the almanacs' pages between 1730 and 1820...the religious content of popular print supports a fresh interpretation of early American cultural and religious history...Tomlin shows that most early Americans relied on a handful of Protestant "essentials"...rather than denominational specifics to define and organize their religious lives."

Stephanie Kirk and Sarah Rivett, ed. Religious Transformations in the Early Modern Americas (Pennsylvania, October)

From the publisher: "...explores the impact of colonial encounters in the Atlantic world on the history of Christianity. Essays from across disciplines examine religious history from a spatial perspective, tracing geographical movements and population dispersals as they were shaped by the millennial designs and evangelizing impulses of European empires."

Robert Darden, Nothing but Love in God's Water: Black Sacred Music from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement (Penn State, October)

Emmett G. Price III: "Part social history, part investigative reporting, and a lot of sound cultural analysis with a touch of theological reflection, this magnum opus illuminates the importance of black sacred music within the civil rights movement. Nothing but Love in God's Water reveals black sacred music as a liberating expression, a tool for liberation, and the most important chronicle of the liberation experience."

Thomas Kidd, George Whitefield: America's Spiritual Founding Father (Yale, October)

Mark Noll: "This superb chronicle of George Whitefield's life is now our fullest biography for the much-studied and much-debated eighteenth-century evangelist. It combines unusual empathy with unusual comprehension."

Darren Dochuk, Thomas Kidd, Kurt Peterson, eds. American Evangelicalism: George Marsden and the State of American Religious History (Notre Dame, October)

Leigh Schmidt: "...a grandly conceived and skillfully executed festschrift in honor of George M. Marsden. The affection and regard for Marsden from his colleagues and former students shine through one essay after another."

Brian Froese, California Mennonites (John Hopkins, November)

Steven Nolt: "Creative and highly original, California Mennonites situates farmers and preachers, pacifists and professionals in the remarkably diverse social, economic, and racial contexts of the Golden State. As he explores how a sense of place shapes faith communities and how religious people engage their surroundings, Brian Froese deepens our understanding of Mennonites everywhere."

Benjamin E. Zeller, Heaven's Gate: America's UFO Religion (New York, November)

Leigh Schmidt: "...carefully situates the group within the broader religious culture of the late twentieth century, including its substantial engagement with both Protestant Christianity and New Age currents. In the process, he turns Heaven’s Gate, an idiosyncratic UFO religion, into one richly emblematic of America’s questing, apocalyptic cultural landscape."

Lerone A. Martin, Preaching on Wax: The Phonograph and the Shaping of Modern African American Religion (New York, November)

Marla Frederick: "Eloquently recalls the at once triumphant and controversial history of America’s first recordings of black sermonic voices—an innovation that has transformed American religion, music, and the arts more broadly. Important and timely, Preaching on Wax insists that we reframe our understanding of the spiritual impulses, racial politics, and commercial influences that mediate a rich strand of African American religion."

From the publisher: "In this first volume of his magisterial study of the foundations of Mormon thought and practice, Terryl L. Givens offers a sweeping account of Mormon belief from its founding to the present day. Situating the relatively new movement in the context of the Christian tradition, he reveals that Mormonism continues to change and grow."

W. Clark Gilpin, Religion Around Emily Dickinson (Penn State, November)

From the publisher: "...begins with the seeming paradox posed by Emily Dickinson's posthumously published works--while her poems and letters contain explicitly religious themes and concepts, throughout her life she resisted joining her local church and rarely attended services...shows how Dickinson's contemporary religious culture, specifically New England Protestant Christianity, helps us to appreciate her poetry, and how her poetry brings attention to religious aspects of her culture and surroundings.

S. Scott Rohrer, Jacob Green's Revolution: Radial Religion and Reform in a Revolutionary Age (Penn State, November)

From the publisher: "As part biography and part microhistory, Jacob Green's Revolution tells a fascinating story about revolution, politics, religion, and reform by focusing on two pivotal figures in New Jersey's revolutionary drama--Jacob Green, a radical Presbyterian minister who advocated revolution, and Thomas Bradbury Chandler, a conservative Anglican minister from Elizabeth Town who was a leading loyalist spokesman in America"

Ava F. Kahn and Adam D. Mendelsohn, eds. Transnational Traditions: New Perspectives on American Jewish History (Wayne State, November)

From the publisher: "...contributors offer new ways of understanding the development of American Jewish life. The diverse chapters...reflect on episodes of continuity and contact between Jews in America and world Jewry over the past two centuries....Overall, this volume will expose readers to the variety and complexity of transnational experiences and encounters within American Jewish history."

Amy DeRogatis, Saving Sex: Sexuality and Salvation in American Evangelicalism (Oxford, November)

From the publisher: "a long-overdue exploration of evangelicals' surprising and often-misunderstood beliefs about sex--who can do what, when, and why--and of the many ways in which they try to bring those beliefs to bear on American culture."

William A. Mirola, Redeeming Time: Protestantism and Chicago's Eight-Hour Movement, 1886-1912 (Illinois, December)

Ken Fones-Wolf: "Mirola creatively challenges what we thought we knew about religion's role in one of the most important dramas unfolding in the Gilded Age--the struggle to limit the workday. His theoretical approach to the uses of religious rhetoric should be required reading for students of reform."

From the publisher: "Building Zion is, in essence, the biography of the cultural landscape of western LDS settlements. Through the physical forms Zion assumed, it tells the life story of a set of Mormon communities—how they were conceived and constructed and inhabited—and what this material manifestation of Zion reveals about what it meant to be a Mormon in the nineteenth century."

Brett Hendrickson, Border Medicine: A Transcultural History of Mexican American Curanderismo (New York, December)

Kristy Nabhan-Warren: "A powerful and beautifully written ethno-historical study of curanderismo in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands...deftly refuses to romanticize curanderos, their healing practices, or the men and women who go to them for help and guidance...situates the complex religious and cultural realities of the historic and contemporary American Southwest, and shows how Mexican American lived borderlands religion fits within American religious history."

Yolanda Y. Smith, Women's Spirituality and Education in the Black Church (Palgrave Macmillan, December)

From the publisher: "The purpose of this book is to examine the role of spirituality in the life experiences of black women who embody a spirituality of teaching as well as a call to social justice. Specifically, this book will explore how spirituality has informed educational practices that have inspired black women's empowerment, social activism, and personal/communal transformation."

Jonathan Den Hartog, Patriotism and Piety: Federalist Politics and Religious Struggle in the New American Nation (Virginia, December)

Mark Noll: "...a convincing study that demonstrates how significantly religion factored in the history of the Federalist Party and how important religious Federalists were for propelling the voluntary style of social organization that influenced the nation so significantly in the first half of the nineteenth century."

Along with what is listed above, there are also a number of other books that scholars of American religion might find interesting (i.e. sourcebooks/readers, books that take a contemporary sociological/ethnographic approach, etc). I didn't have time to go through all of them, but here are a few that caught me eye:


Paul, thanks for putting together this list for those of us less organized in keeping track of new releases.

I'm happy that my book will be published in the same timeframe as these other engaging studies--especially a notable number of ones on evangelicals.
Trevor Burrows said…
Thanks for this second round, Paul. So much good stuff, so little time!
Paul Harvey said…
I hereby anoint Paul as the new blogmeister, and renounce my claim to the name.
Unknown said…
Outstanding list. Between parts 1 and 2, I think I'll be reading well into the next year!
zellerbe said…
I am deeply honored that my book is included on this list. There is some amazing forthcoming scholarship here. Thanks for putting this together!
Paul Putz said…
It's great to hear that others find this as useful as I do. Thanks for the kind words.

Paul, I think Flava Flav style hypeman would be a more fitting title for me.
Paul Harvey said…
Don't believe the hype, Paul. Maybe Blog Wingman?
Paul Putz said…
Blog Wingman. I like it.
Anonymous said…
This is fantastic. Thanks!

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