New Books in American Religious History: 2018 Year in Preview, Part One (January-April)

Four of us—Erin Bartram (University of Hartford), William Black (Rice University), Michel Sun Lee (University of Texas at Austin), and Moxy Moczygemba (University of Florida)—are excited to present part one of the 2018 book preview list! This post covers releases from January through April 2018.

We’ve grouped the books according to which month they’ll be published. We’ve tried to include as many relevant and interesting titles as we could find, but are sure we’ve missed some worthy new books. Please feel free to use the comments to add to this list and we’ll update the post as needed.


Gary James Bergera, ed., Confessions of a Mormon Historian: The Diaries of Leonard J. Arrington, 1971–1999 (Signature Books)
From the publisher: “The honest, captivating, and unapologetic diaries of the ‘father of Mormon history’ and founder of the Mormon History Association.”

John Corrigan, ed., Feeling Religion (Duke University Press)
Pamela Klassen: “...shows how and why the study of emotions needs the study of religion. Characterized by the methodological and geocultural diversity that makes up the field, Feeling Religion puts affect theory and cognitive science in conversation with older theoretical—and theological—approaches.”

Sylvie DuBois, Malcolm Richardson, and Emilie Gagnet Leumas, Speaking French in Louisiana, 1720–1955: Linguistic Practices of the Catholic Church (LSU Press)
From the publisher: “Mining three centuries of evidence from the Archdiocese of New Orleans archives, the authors discover proof of an extraordinary one-hundred-year rise and fall of bilingualism in Louisiana. The multiethnic laity, clergy, and religious in the nineteenth century necessitated the use of multiple languages in church functions, and bilingualism remained an ordinary aspect of church life through the antebellum period. After the Civil War, however, the authors show a steady crossover from French to English in the Church, influenced in large part by an active Irish population. It wasn’t until decades later, around 1910, that the Church began to embrace English monolingualism and French faded from use.”

Robert Hunt Ferguson, Remaking the Rural South: Interracialism, Christian Socialism, and Cooperative Farming in Jim Crow Mississippi (University of Georgia Press)
From the publisher: “In the winter of 1936, two dozen black and white ex-sharecropping families settled on some two thousand acres in the rural Mississippi Delta, one of the most insular and oppressive regions in the nation. Thus began a twenty-year experiment—across two communities—in interracialism, Christian socialism, cooperative farming, and civil and economic activism.”

Robert N. Gross, Public vs. Private: The Early History of School Choice in America (Oxford University Press)
From the publisher: “In the late nineteenth century, American Catholics began constructing rival, urban parochial school systems, an enormous and dramatic undertaking that challenged public school systems' near-monopoly of education…. States quickly sought ways to regulate this burgeoning private sector and the competition it produced, even attempting to abolish private education altogether in the 1920s. Ultimately, however, Gross shows how the public policies that resulted produced a stable educational marketplace, where choice flourished. The creation of the educational marketplace that we have inherited today--with systematic alternatives to public schools--was as much a product of public power as of private initiative.

James Hudnut-Beumler and Mark Silk, eds., The Future of Mainline Protestantism in America (Columbia University Press)
Elesha Coffman: “With precision, clarity, and balance, these authors explore many facets of the well-known but less well understood mainline tradition. The Future of Mainline Protestantism in America offers facts, a guide to pertinent literature, a survey of history, and predictions about coming challenges and opportunities—all highly relevant to conversations about religion in American culture.”

Amanda Izzo, Liberal Christianity and Women's Global Activism: The YWCA of the USA and the Maryknoll Sisters (Rutgers University Press)
Ann Braude: "Amanda Izzo’s book is a revelation. Two intertwining stories--the Maryknoll sisters going from cold warriors to dissidents, and the YWCA as the target of anti-communist repression-- together demonstrate how faith in the power of love propelled Christian women’s political agendas on a world stage in the 20th century."

P. C. Kemeny, The New England Watch and Ward Society (Oxford University Press)
Peter J. Thuesen: “Attempts to dictate public morality are usually associated with the Puritans and later fundamentalists. But as Paul Kemeny shows, it was theological liberals who were among the most zealous crusaders against 'vice' in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. His fine book is not only an indispensable contribution to our understanding of liberal Protestantism but also a cautionary tale about the perils of coercive tactics for achieving cultural consensus.”

Juan Francisco Martínez, The Story of Latino Protestants in the United States (Eerdmans)
From the publisher: “Beginning with a description of the diverse Latino Protestant community and a summary of his own historiographical approach, Martínez then examines six major periods in the history of American Latino Protestantism, paying special attention to key social, political, and religious issues—including immigration policies, migration patterns, enculturation and assimilation, and others—that framed its development and diversification during each period.”


Stephen W. Angell and Pink Dandelion, eds., The Cambridge Companion to Quakerism (Cambridge University Press)
From the publisher: “In a series of eighteen essays written by an international team of scholars, and commissioned especially for this volume, the Companion covers the history of Quakerism from its origins to the present day. Employing a range of methodologies, it features sections on the history of Quaker faith and practice, expressions of Quaker faith, regional studies, and emerging spiritualities. It also examines all branches of Quakerism, including evangelical, liberal, and conservative, as well as non-theist Quakerism and convergent Quaker thought.”

Marie W. Dallam, Cowboy Christians (Oxford University Press)
Joseph Laycock: "Dallam masterfully integrates archival research, quantitative data, and ethnographic thick description to shed light on a movement that has thus far been little known and inadequately understood. This is a must-read for anyone interested in 'muscular Christianity.'”

D.H. Dilbeck, Frederick Douglass: America's Prophet (University of North Carolina Press)
George C.Rable: "An original and often moving account of a complex but endlessly interesting figure, a giant in his time who still speaks to Americans today. Dilbeck has treated Douglass's religious faith and prophetic character more carefully than any previous scholar."

Philip Hamburger, Liberal Suppression: Section 501(c)(3) and the Taxation of Speech (University of Chicago Press)
Ilya Somin: “While there are many books about the role of religion and politics and a large literature on the constitutional implications of tax exemptions and the regulation of nonprofits, none bring these topics together like Hamburger’s sophisticated, original, and compelling arguments. Hamburger persuasively argues that this seemingly modest provision in the tax code actually has important implications for constitutional law, religious freedom, and the development of American liberalism.”

Justine Howe, Suburban Islam (Oxford University Press)
Kecia Ali: “Ethnographically rich and analytically powerful, Suburban Islam explores how the upper-middle-class members of Chicago's Webb Foundation navigate and negotiate religious and national belonging in the post-9/11, pre-Trump era. Justine Howe analyzes racialized identieids, including whiteness, and shows how participants demonstrate their Americanness through commitments to the nuclear family, gender equality, and religious pluralism. Suburban Islam is essential reading for both scholars and students.”

Richard Moon, Putting Faith in Hate: When Religion Is the Source or Target of Hate Speech (Cambridge University Press)
Jamie Cameron: “There may be no greater challenge to freedom theory today than the triangulation of hate, speech, and religion. Professor Moon is Canada's foremost authority on religious and expressive freedom, and his newest book, Putting Faith in Hate, is at the forefront of timely and critical scholarship on the intersection of these values.”

Lucas Volkman, Houses Divided: Evangelical Schisms and the Crisis of the Union in Missouri (Oxford University Press)
John Patrick Daly: “...a vital and groundbreaking book that expands historical understanding of both evangelicalism and the entire Civil War Era. Through the microcosm of church schisms in Missouri, it illuminates the role of religious division in the ideological, economic, legal, social, and political changes that transformed America between 1830 and 1875. Rich in insights, its discussion of the schisms' role in Reconstruction is particularly original and brilliant."


Michael Doyle, The Ministers' War: John W. Mears, the Oneida Community, and the Crusade for Public Morality (Syracuse University Press)
Anthony Wonderley: "The first close-up examination of an interesting clash of moralities in central New York during the 1870s: a minister’s crusade led by Professor John Mears of Hamilton College against the nearby Oneida Community, a utopian commune infamous for free love."

Tracy Fessenden, Religion Around Billie Holiday (Penn State University Press)
Judith Weisenfeld: “With beautiful prose and nuanced analysis, Fessenden navigates the reader through the religious landscape that shaped Holiday’s life and career and tunes our ear to listen for how the soundscape and spirituality of those religious sources shaped her artistry. What emerges is a rich and compelling portrait at the intersection of Holiday’s personal history, American Catholicism, blues and jazz culture, and the currents of race and gender in American life.”

Gillian Frank, Bethany Moreton, Heather R. White, eds., Devotions and Desires: Histories of Sexuality and Religion in the Twentieth-Century United States (University of North Carolina Press)
Margot Canaday: "Hallelujah! Historians of sexuality and historians of religion are writing their entangled histories, and setting aside repression and rebellion as the primary frameworks for understanding as they do. This pathbreaking volume will spark conversation and spur research."

Katharine Gerbner, Christian Slavery: Conversion and Race in the Protestant Atlantic World (University of Pennsylvania Press)
Jon Sensbach: "How and why did Christianity, seemingly built on spiritual emancipation and equality, give blessing to African slavery in the Americas? Christian Slavery is a powerful new interpretation of this question that will inspire scholars to rethink the connections between religion, race, and slavery in the early modern Atlantic world."

Kathryn Gin Lum and Paul Harvey, eds., The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Race in American History (Oxford University Press)
From the publisher: “...brings together a number of established scholars, as well as younger scholars on the rise, to provide a scholarly overview for those interested in the role of religion and race in American history. Thirty-four scholars from the fields of History, Religious Studies, Sociology, Anthropology, and more investigate the complex interdependencies of religion and race from pre-Columbian origins to the present. The volume addresses the religious experience, social realities, theologies, and sociologies of racialized groups in American religious history, as well as the ways that religious myths, institutions, and practices contributed to their racialization.”

Samuel Goldman. God's Country: Christian Zionism in America (University of Pennsylvania Press)
Raymond Haberski: "A serious and substantial contribution to U.S. intellectual history. Samuel Goldman's careful reading of the relationship between American Protestants and a biblically grounded Zionism not only provides expert understanding of the deeply religious foundation of American Exceptionalism but also forces a reconsideration of the intellectual terrain."

Jennifer Graber, The Gods of Indian Country: Religion and the Struggle for the American West (Oxford University Press)
Pekka Hämäläinen: “In this important and much-needed book, religion emerges as something quite surprising and new: as a tool of indigenous dispossession and as a means of preserving native sovereignty and cultural autonomy. The Gods of Indian Country uncovers the centrality of religion to what it meant to be a Native American in the 19th-century United States as well as the centrality of Native Americans to the history of religion in America.”

Sandra Jean Graham, Spirituals and the Birth of a Black Entertainment Industry (University of Illinois Press)
Portia K. Maultsby: “Sandra Graham breaks new ground in her nuanced examination of the white-controlled spiritual or jubilee industry, and of claims for musical and cultural authenticity by black college and independent jubilee groups, as well as white and black performers of blackface minstrelsy, American folk music, and European classical traditions.”

Sarah M. Griffith, The Fight for Asian American Civil Rights: Liberal Protestant Activism, 1900–1950 (University of Illinois Press)
David Hollinger: “YMCA officials with experience as Protestant missionaries in Japan led the defense of Asian Americans in the first half of the twentieth century. Griffith illuminates several decades of anti-racist organizing and writing by a dynamic group of Y leaders, culminating in the group’s climactic and courageous defense of Japanese Americans during World War II. This is a substantial research achievement that broadens our understanding of ecumenical Protestantism and of the history of civil rights.”

Paul Christopher Johnson, Pamela E. Klassen, and Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, Ekklesia: Three Inquiries in Church and State (University of Chicago Press)
Courtney Bender: “Ekklesia breathes welcome new life into arguments about “church and state,” offering fresh coordinates, frontiers, and observations with which to better understand the knotty and often violent hybrids of ‘churchstate’ relations throughout the Americas. Read separately and in comparison, its three provocative narratives and erudite opening chapter offer an important new path for understanding the enduring entanglements of religious matters in the shaping of sovereignty and peoplehood in American state formations.”

Ellen Lewin, Filled with the Spirit: Sexuality, Gender, and Radical Inclusivity in a Black Pentecostal Church Coalition (University of Chicago Press)
From the publisher: “Lewin examines the seemingly paradoxical relationship between TFAM and traditional black churches, focusing on how congregations and individual members reclaim the worship practices of these churches and simultaneously challenge their authority. The book looks closely at how TFAM worship is legitimated and enhanced by its use of gospel music and considers the images of food and African American culture that are central to liturgical imagery, as well as how understandings of personal authenticity tie into the desire to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Throughout, Lewin takes up what has been mostly missing from our discussions of race, gender, and sexuality—close attention to spirituality and faith.”

John Loughery, Dagger John: Archbishop John Hughes and the Making of Irish America (Cornell University Press)
Daniel Walker Howe: “Archbishop Hughes, a major player in nineteenth-century U.S. history, finally receives his due in John Loughery's fascinating, wide-ranging, richly informative, and insightful biography.”

Harvey Markowitz, Converting the Rosebud: Catholic Mission and the Lakotas, 1886–1916 (University of Oklahoma Press)
Frederick E. Hoxie: “Harvey Markowitz’s exploration of the dramatic encounter between Christians and indigenous people in Sioux country is a model of ethnohistorical scholarship. Rooted in a deep understanding of the two traditions that crossed paths on the Rosebud more than a century ago, Converting the Rosebud is a fresh and stunning work that teaches us a great deal about faith, culture change, and the rich religious history of America.”

Samira K. Mehta, Beyond Chrismukkah: The Christian-Jewish Interfaith Family in the United States (University of North Carolina Press)
Jodi Eichler-Levine: "Samira Mehta’s ethnographic study of Jewish-Christian intermarriage is thoughtfully contextualized within American religious history, sociology, and cultural studies, painting a powerful and nuanced picture of interfaith families from the mid-twentieth century to the present. I found myself fascinated by this book."

Damien Murray, Irish Nationalists in Boston: Catholicism and Conflict, 1900–1928 (Catholic University of America Press)
From the publisher: “During the first quarter of the twentieth century, the intersection of support for Irish freedom and the principles of Catholic social justice transformed Irish ethnicity in Boston…. Boston's Irish nationalists drew heavily on Catholic Church teachings such that Irish ethnicity came to be more clearly identified with the advocacy of both cultural pluralism and the rights of immigrant and working families in Boston and America.”

Emily Ogden, Credulity: A Cultural History of US Mesmerism (University of Chicago Press)
Jennifer Fleissner: “Marshaling a truly astonishing array of firsthand research, Ogden’s wonderful Credulity provides the first full-scale history of the fascinating phenomenon of mesmerism in the United States. Ogden not only offers elegant and innovative readings of major nineteenth-century novels and unjustly neglected works alike, but reframes some of the most hotly contested questions in contemporary scholarship: the status of modernity as a 'secular age,' the fate within it of ‘enchantment,' and the idealization of agency.”

Darel E. Paul, From Tolerance to Equality: How Elites Brought America to Same-Sex Marriage (Baylor University Press)
Scott Yenor: "A new managerial elite has ascended to power in the American academy, learned professions, corporations, religious bodies, and government. Darel Paul not only charts how this elite has led the country to normalize homosexuality but also shows how the campaign for same-sex marriage constitutes this elite’s identity in our time. . . . From Tolerance to Equality is a must-read showing how our Culture Wars are the leading edge of factional conflict in America."

Amanda Porterfield, Corporate Spirit: Religion and the Rise of the Modern Corporation (Oxford University Press)
Harry S. Stout: “This fascinating new study explores the overlapping terrain of Christianity and contract law from Roman antiquity to the twenty-first century world of Enron and global corporations. In bringing together the Pauline idea of 'corporate membership' with the evolving world of corporate America it has no equal in breadth of scholarship, grace of style, or acuity of interpretation. Nothing less than a scholarly tour de force."

James W. Sanders, Irish vs. Yankees: A Social History of the Boston Schools (Oxford University Press)
From the publisher: “... takes a new look at [a] critical period in the development of Boston schools, from 1822, when Boston officially became a city, to the Second World War. Framing the discussion around the Catholic hierarchy, he considers the interplay of social forces in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that led to the political rise of the Irish Catholic over the native Brahmin and the way this development shaped Boston's schools.”

Randall J. Stephens, The Devil’s Music: How Christians Inspired, Condemned, and Embraced Rock and Roll (Harvard University Press)
David Hempton: “Stephens brilliantly explores the many enmities, ambiguities, adaptations, and constant braiding of rock music and conservative Christian youth culture as the electricity of rock music jolted and shocked parents and captivated teens and young adults. The fiercely fought battles over music, values and taste were indeed proxy wars for the soul of the nation.”

Daniel P. Stone, William Bickerton: Forgotten Latter Day Prophet (Signature Books)
From the publisher: “The previously untold biography of William Bickerton, founder of the third-largest Latter Day Saint denomination [the Church of Jesus Christ].”

Mary E. Stuckey, Political Vocabularies: FDR, the Clergy Letters, and the Elements of Political Argument (Michigan State University Press)
Denise M. Bostdorff: ““Mary Stuckey takes what appears to be a most conventional set of messages—letters written by religious leaders in response to FDR’s 1935 query on how the government might better serve their communities—and sheds extraordinary light on the New Deal realignment by analyzing its rhetorical markers in the form of competing political vocabularies offered by these clergy.”

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, Reconstructing the Gospel: Finding Freedom from Slaveholder Religion (InterVarsity Press)
William J. Barber II: “So what happened to Christianity in America? This is the question my brother Jonathan faces head-on in this book. He follows this question to the heart of America's original sin, and he invites all of us to join him there and face another question: is our God greater than America's racism? This is a question we must answer, no matter the color of our skin. Slaveholder religion has infected every corner of the church in America—including the black church.”


Betty Livingston Adams, Black Women’s Christian Activism: Seeking Social Justice in a Northern Suburb (New York University Press)
Judith Weisenfeld: “Well researched, engaging, and accessible, Adams’s work adds new dimensions to our understanding of the history of the black women’s club movement, their participation in interracial social reform and political organizing, and leadership in black churches. She has done a great service in restoring these women to a place of importance in the narrative of African American religious history.”

Khaled A. Beydoun, American Islamophobia: Understanding the Roots and Rise of Fear (University of California Press)
Naomi Klein: “Deftly pairing his deep legal expertise with a searching moral dialogue, Khaled A. Beydoun breaks down U.S. Islamophobia as the full-fledged system that it is—one with a very specific history, but tightly linked to other forms of white supremacy.”

Matthew Bowman, Christian: The Politics of a Word in America (Harvard University Press)
Grant Wacker: “Spanning American history from Reconstruction to the present, Bowman shows that the word ‘Christian’ has persistently borne political and cultural meanings that far transcend theological beliefs and religious practices. Elegantly written, deeply researched, and persuasively argued…”

Heather D. Curtis, Holy Humanitarians: American Evangelicals and Global Aid (Harvard University Press)
Darren Dochuk: “A stellar study of the popular Christian Herald and its outsized importance in the emergence of American evangelical media, philanthropy, and global engagement at the turn of the twentieth century.”

David J. Endres, Many Tongues, One Faith: A History of Franciscan Parish Life in the United States (Catholic University of America Press)
From the publisher: “The history of Franciscan parishes in the United States mirrors the social, religious and cultural shifts brought about by repeated waves of immigrants to the United States during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This study offers a glimpse into the struggles of Franciscan priests, sisters, and laity attempting to live out their faith amidst the challenges of the time: religious bigotry, racial and ethnic strife, and cultural and religious challenges. The Franciscan experience provides an important element in the tapestry of the American experience.”

John H. Evans, Morals Not Knowledge: Recasting the Contemporary U.S. Conflict between Religion and Science (University of California Press)
Elaine Howard Ecklund: “Evans argues that contemporary debate around religion and science in the U.S. public sphere assumes that religious people lack knowledge of science. In reality, most everyday Americans (even conservative Protestants) accept and uphold science. The kind of synthetic field-building work that Evans does is needed in this burgeoning area.”

Nancy A. Hewitt, Radical Friend: Amy Kirby Post and Her Activist Worlds (University of North Carolina Press)
Carol Faulkner: “Radical Friend is a pleasure to read, offering a significant reinterpretation of nineteenth-century American reform as egalitarian, interracial, and defiant of social, political, and religious hierarchies.”

James Hudnut-Beumler, Strangers and Friends at the Welcome Table: Contemporary Christianities in the American South (University of North Carolina Press)
Paul Harvey: “This rich, warm book wears its learning lightly, telling fascinating stories of diversity in the expression of contemporary Christianities in the South. The diversity here is very real—snake-handlers, Civil War reenactors, post-Katrina victims, megachurch attendees, Catholics, homeschoolers, LGBT-friendly congregations, creationists, and political figures ranging from right to left. While Christianity continues to dominate the culture of the southern states, Christianities represent many different kinds of people.”

Jon R. Kershner, John Woolman and the Government of Christ: A Colonial Quaker’s Vision for the British Atlantic World (Oxford University Press)
From the publisher: “John Woolman, a tailor, was a lay Quaker leader in religiously charged 18th century colonial America. Woolman attempted to shape the rapidly changing culture and economy of the midcentury according to his radical apocalyptic theology. Woolman's theological vision stemmed from his idealization of the Hebrew prophets, which led him to encourage social reforms and to critique the burgeoning trans-Atlantic economy, slavery, and British imperial conflicts…. Kershner argues that instead of the militant apocalypticism commonly associated with radical Christian groups, Woolman utilized Quaker and mystical sources to craft a spiritualized ‘apocalypse of the heart.’ This book describes Woolman's alternative vision for colonial society, and reveals the sources and social consequences of radical colonial theologies.”

Pamela E. Klassen, The Story of Radio Mind: A Missionary’s Journey on Indigenous Land (University of Chicago Press)
From the publisher: “At the dawn of the radio age in the 1920s, a settler-mystic living on northwest coast of British Columbia invented radio mind: Frederick Du Vernet—Anglican archbishop and self-declared scientist—announced a psychic channel by which minds could telepathically communicate across distance. Retelling Du Vernet’s imaginative experiment, Pamela Klassen shows us how agents of colonialism built metaphysical traditions on land they claimed to have conquered.”

Benjamin R. Kracht, Religious Revitalization among the Kiowas: The Ghost Dance, Peyote, and Christianity (University of Nebraska Press)
Donald L. Fixico: “Benjamin Kracht enlightens us about how indigenous groups, once called the vanishing race, survived and rebuilt their nations. Through religious syncretism and their unique understanding of the sacred, the Kiowa people established a new Kiowa Way—combining traditionalism with external religions. This extraordinary scholarship explores the resilience of indigenous peoples and the reinventing of culture.”


Randall said…
Thanks for putting this together Paul. I feel like I'm in really good company here. Looking forward to all these wonderful titles coming out so soon!

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