Conversations with Authors: A Recurring Series

Samira K. Mehta

Today, I am announcing a new series here on the Religion in American History. Over the next several months, I will be interviewing authors of newly released books in American religious history. The interviews will explore the arguments presented in the various monographs, but they will also explore the craft of writing and research. I will be asking authors about how they chose to design their work, how they did or did not draw on history, ethnography, and cultural studies. I will ask not only about their own theoretical interventions, but also about how they came to their theoretical conversation partners. Additionally, we will explore use of language and style. What is the role of the epigraph? How conscious were they about crafting language and tone, and with the hope of what effect? When the monograph in question is a first book, we may also talk about the process of moving from dissertation to book.

I have selected the first several months of books, and arranged author interviews, but please feel free to use the comments section to suggest texts and authors. I am planning to time interviews as closely as possible for the books’ release dates, so think of the list more in terms of “titles that you are excited to read,” rather than “great books you have read in the past year.” (Or course, blog schedule and the fact that books are released in batches means that sometimes a few months may pass between publication and the interview.) I probably can’t get to everyone (after all, I only have twelve spots in a year), but I look forward to your suggestions. Those of you who know me (or can locate my email address online) should also feel free to make suggestions via email or Facebook. In the next months, look for conversations with Jodi Eichler-Levine, Adam Becker, Anthony Petro, Sara Moslener, and Heather White.

I am focusing on craft as well as content for this series of interviews because I am currently revising own first manuscript for publication and find myself wanting to talk to other writers about their processes. I very much hope this focus on the process of writing and research is of use to other writers of books and dissertations. If you have questions that you would like me to address, please feel free to post them here, or send them along by email. 

I look forward to starting an exciting conversation, both about new scholarship and about the craft of writing and research.


Sounds good, I'm looking forward to it.

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