Religion at the U.S. Intellectual History Conference

Andrea L. Turpin

I am looking forward to the annual conference of the Society for U.S. Intellectual History (S-USIH) this coming weekend, October 26-29, 2017, at the Dallas/Plano Marriott at Legacy Town Center! (This Baylor professor got lucky with travel this year.)

One of the striking things about the program is how many papers related to American religion it contains. Indeed, this blog is exceptionally well represented. I am presenting, as are four fellow bloggers: Pete Cajka, Elesha Coffman, Lauren Turek, and blogmeister Cara Burnidge. Literally every time slot of panels save the very last one (which meets at 10am Sunday morning) has at least one paper on U.S. religious history--and more than one time slot has two entire panels on U.S. religion meeting simultaneously. There's a good mix of full panels on religious history and individual papers relating religion to a panel dedicated to a different main topic. Another encouraging sign of the vitality of the field is that the religious historians presenting at the conference span all career stages from graduate student to full professor.

Probably the most common themes in the papers are the connections between religious thought and politics/economics or women/gender. Other papers explore the intersection of religious thought with ideas about empire, education, and science. Judaism, Catholicism, and Protestantism--both conservative and liberal--are all reasonably well represented, with liberal Protestantism the most common. In the future, I would love to see more papers on the religious thought of people of color and religious thought beyond the boundaries of Christianity and Judaism.

I've listed below in bold the papers and panels explicitly featuring American religion. They give a good sense of the state of the field of the intersection of U.S. religious and intellectual history. Enjoy!


Friday, October 27, 2017

8:00 AM – 9:40 AM                 Session I

“Religious Ideas: A State-of-the-Field Roundtable based on 19th and 20th Century American History” (roundtable)
Moderator:  Gale Kenny, Barnard College
Emily Conroy-Krutz, Michigan State University
Daniel Hummel, Harvard University
Peter Cajka, Notre Dame
Jacob Hiserman, Baylor University

“Humanisms in Twentieth Century American Culture” (panel)
 Chair/Comment:  Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn, Syracuse University
 Paul Murphy, Grand Valley State University, “Two Humanisms – Separate and Distinct, Conservative and Progressive – and the Belief in an American Mind”
 Stephen P. Weldon, University of Oklahoma, “Intellectuals and the Role of Liberal Religion as a Change Agent in 20th-Century America: The Example of American Humanism”
 Emily J. Griffin, University of Oklahoma, “Post-War Industrial America and the Shaping of the
Humanistic Worldviews of Kurt and Bernard Vonnegut”

“Modern Moral Causes in Context” (panel) (a/v)
Chair: Lilian Calles Barger, Independent Scholar
Chris Babits, University of Texas at Austin, “Curing the Fallen: Women Conversion Therapists, Freudianism, and Prayer in the 1970s and 1980s”
Alexander Steele, University of Minnesota, “Black Lives Matter: History, Memory, and the Politics of Dissent”
Adam Shapiro, “Does the March for Science Have an Intellectual History?”
Comment: audience

10:00 AM – 11:40 AM             Session II

Annuit Coeptis: Forms of Civil Religion in the Midst of Crisis, 1953-2012” (roundtable)
Moderator: Ethan Schrum, Azusa Pacific University
Hilde Eliassen Restad, Bjørknes College
John D. Wilsey, Princeton University
James M. Patterson, Ave Maria University
Fred W. Beuttler, University of Chicago
Lauren F. Turek, Trinity University

1:30 PM – 3:10 PM                 Session III

“Religion and Nationalism in Early America” (panel)
Chair/Comment: Emily Conroy-Krutz, Michigan State University
Katherine Carté Engel, Southern Methodist University, “The Shallow Roots of American Religious Nationalism”
Ben Wright, University of Texas at Dallas, “Nationalism, Denominationalism, and the Benevolent Empire”
William Black, Rice University, “Cumberland Presbyterians and the Project of the Christian Nation”

3:30 PM – 5:10 PM                 Session IV

“Fundamentalists v. Feminists? Reevaluating the Role of Women and Gender in Conservative Protestant Political Engagement” (panel)
Chair/Comment: Daniel K. Williams, University of West Georgia
Andrea L. Turpin, Baylor University, “Women Between Fundamentalism and Modernism: Fusing Conservative Theology and Progressive Politics in the Presbyterian Church and the YWCA”
Elizabeth H. Flowers, Texas Christian University, “From Eve’s Curse to Eden’s Blessing: Submission, Complementarianism, and the Gendering of Inerrancy”
Karen K. Seat, University of Arizona, “The Symbiosis of Social and Fiscal Conservatives: Gender and Human Care in a Neoliberal World”

7:00 – 9:00 PM                        Friday Plenary Roundtable    

Toward Democracy as Faith or Doubt”
Moderator: Christopher Cameron, University of North Carolina, Charlotte
Caleb McDaniel, Rice University
Amanda Porterfield, Florida State University
Manisha Sinha, University of Connecticut
Daniel Wickberg, University of Texas at Dallas
Respondent: James Kloppenberg, Harvard University

Saturday, October 28, 2017

8:00 AM – 9:40 AM                 Session V

“U.S. Women and Transatlantic Intellectual Cultures in the Nineteenth Century” (panel)
Chair/Comment: Sarah Gardner, Mercer University
Paul Gutacker, Baylor University, “Church Fathers and ‘Nursing Mothers’: Adaptations of Religious Historiography by Antebellum Women Historians”
Jonathan G. Koefoed, Belhaven University, “Harriet Beecher Stowe: A Transatlantic Romanticist”
Joel Iliff, Baylor University, “The Sable Wings of Skepticism: Antebellum Southern Women, German Thought, and Intellectual Crises of Faith”
Sara S. Frear, Houston Baptist University, “Seeing Farther: Mary Virginia Terhune Interprets Darwin for Her Readers”

“How to Make an ‘American Century’: Religion and the Shaping of the Modern Public Sphere” (panel)
Chair/Comment: Ray Haberski
Sara Georgini, Massachusetts Historical Society, “Making the Mapparium”
David Mislin, Temple University, “‘A Great Time to Be Alive’?: The Midcentury Protestant Establishment and the Memory of the Past”
Rachel Gordan, Brandeis University, “’Introduction to Judaism’ Literature”
10:00 AM – 11:40 AM             Session VI

“Markers of Memory in the Long 19th Century” (panel) (a/v)
Chair: Leslie A. Butler, Dartmouth College
Erin Bartram, University of Hartford, “’Jane’s mind desires intensely demonstration in all things’: Experiments in Imperfect Happiness in Antebellum America”
Lauren Davis, University of Texas at Dallas, “Free Women of Color and Counter-Domesticities of the Circum-Caribbean: Plaçage, Passing, Broken Marriages, and Religious Vocation as Alternatives to the Cult of True Womanhood in New Orleans, 1765-1865”
Nicolette Gable, College of William and Mary, “Memories of History in the Mauve Decade”
Ermine Algaier, Monmouth College, “Historicizing Alice’s ‘Valuable & Much Prized by W.J.’ Bibliography: A Nostalgic Reading”
Comment: audience

“Deep in the Mind of Texas: Unsung Texas Intellectuals, 1865-1965”
Chair/Comment: Robert H. Abzug, University of Texas at Austin
David Weinfeld, Virginia Commonwealth University, “Zionist, Pragmatist, Texan: The Case of Constance Pessels”
Karen Kossie-Chernyshev, Texas Southern University, “Lillian Jones Horace (1880-1965) and Zora Neale Hurston (1890-1960): Twin Towers of Black, Southern, Female Intellectual Engagement in Comparative/Contrastive Review”
Cynthia Morales, Texas State University, “Alonso S. Perales: Defender of His ‘Race’”

“In a Mirror, Darkly: Religion, Empire, America” (panel)
Chair/Comment: Philip Goff, Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture, IUPUI
Tracy Laevelle, Creighton University “A Fatal Experiment: Missionary Science and ‘Providential Colonialism’ in Nineteenth-Century Hawaii”
Cara Burnidge, University of Northern Iowa, “Woodrow Wilson’s ‘Spiritual Mediation’ and American Empire”
Raymond Haberski, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, “Competing Affections: The Challenge of Peace and Moral Debate Over Empire”

“Faith in an Anxious Age: Religious Thought in Mid-Twentieth-Century America” (panel)
Chair/Comment: Molly Worthen, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Daniel K. Williams, University of West Georgia, “Believing in God in the 1950s: Rational Defenses of Faith among Evangelicals, Mainline Protestants, and Catholics in the Early Postwar Years”
John W. Compton, Chapman University, “Holding the Vital Center: The National Council of Churches and the Postwar Welfare State”
Benjamin P. Leavitt, Baylor University, “Experiments in Education: Robert Lincoln Kelly, the Council of Church Boards of Education, and Religious Instruction in Early Twentieth-Century Colleges and Universities”

1:30 PM – 3:10 PM                 Session VII

“Feminist Disruptions in Theory” (panel)
Chair/Comment: Andrew Hartman, Illinois State University
Matthew Brown, University of Texas at Dallas, “William Moulton Marston’s Feminist-Scientific Critique of Freud”
Elesha Coffman, Baylor University, “Margaret Mead, Betty Friedan, and the Boundaries of Feminism”
Lilian Calles Barger, Independent Scholar, “From Subjectivity to Revolution: Radical Feminism and the Uses of Marcuse”
Gregory Jones-Katz, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, “The ‘Female’ School of Deconstruction and the Transformation of Feminism, 1969-1993”

3:30 PM – 5:10 PM                 Session VIII

“Democracy and Christianity in the American Political Arena” (panel)
Chair/Comment: Elesha Coffman, Baylor University
Benjamin E. Park, Sam Houston State University, “Self-Rule in a Godly Society: Antebellum Challenges to Protestant Democratic Culture”
Matthew Bowman, Henderson State University, “Robert Bellah and the Cults: Civic Religion, Liberal Protestantism, and Democracy in an Age of Anxiety”
Lily Santoro, Southwest Missouri State University, “Scientifically Creating Righteous and Fit Christian Citizens”

“Pluralism and Democracy in the Twentieth Century” (panel)
Chair/Comment: Anne Kornhauser
Andrew Seal, Yale University, “Pluralism and Its Problems: Reconstructing the Postwar Critique of Liberal Social Science”
Tom Arnold-Forster, Cambridge University, “Populism and Pluralism after the Scopes Trial”
Merve Fejzula, Cambridge University, “Cultural Pluralism and American Democracy in Black Diasporic Thought”

“Remembering and Forgetting that Old-Time Religion in the Age of Trump” (roundtable)
Moderator: L.D. Burnett
Jeff Sharlet, Dartmouth College
Randy R. Potts, freelance writer
Molly Worthen, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Wassim Daghrir, University of Sousse

Sunday, October 29, 2017

8:00 AM – 9:40 AM                 Session IX

“Circulation of Ideas in Early Republic and Antebellum America”
Chair: Michael Landis, Tarleton State University
Rebecca Brenner, American University, “Mr. Jefferson’s Library & Mr. Madison’s War”
Samuel Davis, Temple University, “’Which all should labor to remove’: Colonization and Removal in the Old Northwest”
Daniel Roeber, Florida State University, “Delivering Religion at Reduced Rates: The Post Office and Religion in the Early Republic”


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