Tag Archives: American History

“Islam and the Americas” (Khan, ed.)

This April, University Press of Florida will release “Islam and the Americas” edited by Aisha Khan (New York University).  The publisher’s description follows:

Islam and the AmericasIn case studies that include the Caribbean, Latin America, and the United States, the contributors to this interdisciplinary volume trace the establishment of Islam in the Americas over the past three centuries. They simultaneously explore Muslims’ lived experiences and examine the ways Islam has been shaped in the “Muslim minority” societies in the New World, including the Gilded Age’s fascination with Orientalism, the gendered interpretations of doctrine among Muslim immigrants and local converts, the embrace of Islam by African American activist-intellectuals like Malcolm X, and the ways transnational hip hop artists re-create and reimagine Muslim identities.

Together, these essays challenge the typical view of Islam as timeless, predictable, and opposed to Western worldviews and value systems, showing how this religious tradition continually engages with local and global issues of culture, gender, class, and race.

Decentering Discussions on Religion and State (Donabed & Quezada-Grant, eds.)

This April, Lexington Books will release “Decentering Discussions on Religion and State: Emerging Narratives, Challenging Perspectives” edited by Sargon George Donabed and Autumn Quezada-Grant (Roger Williams University).  The publisher’s description follows:

Decentering ReligionThis volume explores dynamic conversations through history between individuals and communities over questions about religion and state. Divided into two sections, our authors begin with considerations on the separation of religion and state, as well as Roger Williams’ concept of religious freedom. Authors in the first half consider nuanced debates centered on emerging narratives, with particular emphasis on Native America, Early Americans, and experiences in American immigration after Independence. The first half of the volume examines voices in American History as they publicly engage with notions of secular ideology. Discussions then shift as the volume broadens to world perspectives on religion-state relations. Authors consider critical questions of nation, religious identity and transnational narratives. The intent of this volume is to privilege new narratives about religion-state relations. Decentering discussions away from national narratives allows for emerging voices at the individual and community levels. This volume offers readers new openings through which to understand critical but overlooked interactions between individuals and groups of people with the state over questions about religion.

Haselby, “The Origins of American Religious Nationalism”

This March, Oxford University Press will release “The Origins of American Religious Nationalism” by Sam Haselby (Columbia University).  The publisher’s description follows:

The Origins of American Religious NationalismSam Haselby offers a new and persuasive account of the role of religion in the formation of American nationality, showing how a contest within Protestantism reshaped American political culture and led to the creation of an enduring religious nationalism.

Following U.S. independence, the new republic faced vital challenges, including a vast and unique continental colonization project undertaken without, in the centuries-old European senses of the terms, either “a church” or “a state.” Amid this crisis, two distinct Protestant movements arose: a popular and rambunctious frontier revivalism; and a nationalist, corporate missionary movement dominated by Northeastern elites. The former heralded the birth of popular American Protestantism, while the latter marked the advent of systematic Protestant missionary activity in the West.

The explosive economic and territorial growth in the early American republic, and the complexity of its political life, gave both movements opportunities for innovation and influence. This book explores the competition between them in relation to major contemporary developments-political democratization, large-scale immigration and unruly migration, fears of political disintegration, the rise of American capitalism and American slavery, and the need to nationalize the frontier. Haselby traces these developments from before the American Revolution to the rise of Andrew Jackson. His approach illuminates important changes in American history, including the decline of religious distinctions and the rise of racial ones, how and why “Indian removal” happened when it did, and with Andrew Jackson, the appearance of the first full-blown expression of American religious nationalism.

Kittelstrom, “The Religion of Democracy”

This April, Penguin Press will release “The Religion of Democracy: Seven Liberals and the American Moral Tradition” by Amy Kittelstrom (Sonoma State University).  The publisher’s description follows:

The Religion of DemocracyToday we associate liberal thought and politics with secularism. When we argue over whether the nation’s founders meant to keep religion out of politics, the godless side is said to be liberal. But the role of religion in American politics has always been far more nuanced and complex than today’s debates would suggest and closer to the heart of American intellectual life than is commonly understood. American democracy was intended by its creators to be more than just a political system, and in The Religion of Democracy, historian Amy Kittelstrom shows how religion and democracy have worked together as universal ideals in American culture—and as guides to moral action and the social practice of treating one another as equals who deserve to be free.

The first people in the world to call themselves “liberals” were New England Christians in the early republic, for whom being liberal meant being receptive to a range of beliefs and values. The story begins in the mid-eighteenth century, when the first Boston liberals brought the Enlightenment into Reformation Christianity, tying equality and liberty to the human soul at the same moment these root concepts were being tied to democracy. The nineteenth century saw the development of a robust liberal intellectual culture in America, built on open-minded pursuit of truth and acceptance of human diversity. By the twentieth century, what had begun in Boston as a narrow, patrician democracy transformed into a religion of democracy in which the new liberals of modern America believed that where different viewpoints overlap, common truth is revealed. The core American principles of liberty and equality were never free from religion but full of religion.

The Religion of Democracy re-creates the liberal conversation from the eighteenth century to the twentieth by tracing the lived connections among seven thinkers through whom they knew, what they read and wrote, where they went, and how they expressed their opinions—from John Adams to William James to Jane Addams; from Boston to Chicago to Berkeley. Sweeping and ambitious, The Religion of Democracy is a lively narrative of quintessentially American ideas as they were forged, debated, and remade across our history.

Curiel, “Islam in America”

This February, I.B. Tauris Publishers will release “Islam in America” by Jonathan Curiel.  The publisher’s description follows:

Islam in AmericaIslam is a hidden ingredient in the melting pot of America. Though there are between 2 and 8 million Muslims in the USA, Islam has traditionally had little political clout compared to other minority faiths. Nonetheless it is believed to be the country’s fastest-growing religion, with a vibrant culture of theological debate, particularly regarding the role of women preachers. In Islam in America, Jonathan Curiel traces the story of America’s Muslims from the seventeenth-century slave trade to the eighteenth-century immigration wave to the Nation of Islam. Drawing on interviews in communities from industrial Michigan to rural California, Curiel portrays the diversity of practices, cultures and observances that make up Muslim America. He profiles the leading personalities and institutions representing the community, and explores their relationship to the wider politics of America, particularly after 9/11. Islam in America offers an indispensable guide to the social life of modern Islam and the diversity of contemporary America.

“The Lively Experiment” (Beneke & Grenda, eds.)

This March, Rowman & Littlefield Publishing will release “The Lively Experiment: Religious Toleration in America from Roger Williams to the Present” edited by Chris Beneke (Bentley College) and Christopher Grenda (CUNY-Brooklyn Community College).  The publisher’s description follows:

Beginning with the legacy of Roger Williams, who in 1633 founded the first colony not restricted to people of one faith, The Lively Experiment chronicles how Americans have continually demolished traditional prejudices while at the same time erecting new walls between belief systems. The chapters gathered here reveal how Americans are sensitively attuned to irony and contradiction, to unanticipated eruptions of bigotry and unheralded acts of decency, and to the disruption caused by new movements and the reassurance supplied by old divisions. The authors examine the way ethnicity, race, and imperialism have been woven into the fabric of interreligious relations and highlight how currents of tolerance and intolerance have rippled in multiple directions. Nearly four hundred years after Roger Williams’ Rhode Island colony, the “lively experiment” of religious tolerance remains a core tenet of the American way of life. This volume honors this boisterous tradition by offering the first comprehensive account of America’s vibrant and often tumultuous history of interreligious relations.

“Faithful Republic” (Preston, Schulman & Zelizer eds.)

This March, the University of Pennsylvania Press will release “Faithful Republic: Religion and Politics in Modern America” edited by Andrew Preston (Cambridge University), Bruce Schulman (Boston University), and Julian Zelizer (Princeton University).  The publisher’s description follows:

Despite constitutional limitations, the points of contact between religion and politics have deeply affected all aspects of American political development since the founding of the United States. Within partisan politics, federal institutions, and movement activism, religion and politics have rarely ever been truly separate; rather, they are two forms of cultural expression that are continually coevolving and reconfiguring in the face of social change.

Faithful Republic explores the dynamics between religion and politics in the United States from the early twentieth century to the present. Rather than focusing on the traditional question of the separation between church and state, this volume touches on many other aspects of American political history, addressing divorce, civil rights, liberalism and conservatism, domestic policy, and economics. Together, the essays blend church history and lived religion to fashion an innovative kind of political history, demonstrating the pervasiveness of religion throughout American political life.

Van Engen, “Sympathetic Puritans”

In February, Oxford University Press will release “Sympathetic Puritans: Calvinist Fellow Feeling in Early New England” by Abram Van Engen (Washington University).  The publisher’s description follows:

Sympathetic PuritansRevising dominant accounts of Puritanism and challenging the literary history of sentimentalism, Sympathetic Puritans argues that a Calvinist theology of sympathy shaped the politics, religion, rhetoric, and literature of early New England. Scholars have often understood and presented sentimentalism as a direct challenge to stern and stoic Puritan forebears; the standard history traces a cult of sensibility back to moral sense philosophy and the Scottish Enlightenment, not Puritan New England. Abram C. Van Engen has unearthed pervasive evidence of sympathy in a large archive of Puritan sermons, treatises, tracts, poems, journals, histories, and captivity narratives. He demonstrates how two types of sympathy — the active command to fellow-feel (a duty), as well as the passive sign that could indicate salvation (a discovery) — permeated Puritan society and came to define the very boundaries of English culture, affecting conceptions of community, relations with Native Americans, and the development of American literature.

Van Engen re-examines the Antinomian Controversy, conversion narratives, transatlantic relations, Puritan missions, Mary Rowlandson’s captivity narrative — and Puritan culture more generally — through the lens of sympathy. Demonstrating and explicating a Calvinist theology of sympathy in seventeenth-century New England, the book reveals the religious history of a concept that has previously been associated with more secular roots.

Dixie & Eisenstadt, “Visions of a Better World”

Last month, Random House released the paperback edition of Visions of a Better9780807001721 World: Howard Thurman’s Pilgrimage to India and the Origins of African American Nonviolence, by Quinton Dixie and Peter Eisenstadt. The publisher’s description follows:

In 1935, at the height of his powers, Howard Thurman, one of the most influential African American religious thinkers of the twentieth century, took a pivotal trip to India that would forever change him—and that would ultimately shape the course of the civil rights movement in the United States.

When Thurman (1899–1981) became the first African American to meet with Mahatma Gandhi, he found himself called upon to create a new version of American Christianity, one that eschewed self-imposed racial and religious boundaries, and equipped itself to confront the enormous social injustices that plagued the United States during this period. Gandhi’s philosophy and practice of satyagraha, or “soul force,” would have a momentous impact on Thurman, showing him the effectiveness of nonviolent resistance.

After the journey to India, Thurman’s distinctly American translation of satyagraha into a Black Christian context became one of the key inspirations for the civil rights movement, fulfilling Gandhi’s prescient words that “it may be through the Negroes that the unadulterated message of nonviolence will be delivered to the world.” Thurman went on to found one of the first explicitly interracial congregations in the United States and to deeply influence an entire generation of black ministers—among them Martin Luther King Jr.

Visions of a Better World depicts a visionary leader at a transformative moment in his life. Drawing from previously untapped archival material and obscurely published works, Quinton Dixie and Peter Eisenstadt explore, for the first time, Thurman’s development into a towering theologian who would profoundly affect American Christianity—and American history.

Sutton, “American Apocalypse”

This December, Harvard University Press will release “American Apocalypse: A History of Modern Evangelicalism” by Matthew Avery Sutton (Washington State University).  The publisher’s description follows:

American ApocalypseThe first comprehensive history of modern American evangelicalism to appear in a generation, American Apocalypse shows how a group of radical Protestants, anticipating the end of the world, paradoxically transformed it.

Matthew Avery Sutton draws on extensive archival research to document the ways an initially obscure network of charismatic preachers and their followers reshaped American religion, at home and abroad, for over a century. Perceiving the United States as besieged by Satanic forces—communism and secularism, family breakdown and government encroachment—Billy Sunday, Charles Fuller, Billy Graham, and others took to the pulpit and airwaves to explain how Biblical end-times prophecy made sense of a world ravaged by global wars, genocide, and the threat of nuclear extinction. Believing Armageddon was nigh, these preachers used what little time was left to warn of the coming Antichrist, save souls, and prepare the nation for God’s final judgment.

By the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan and conservative Republicans appropriated evangelical ideas to create a morally infused political agenda that challenged the pragmatic tradition of governance through compromise and consensus. Following 9/11, the politics of apocalypse continued to resonate with an anxious populace seeking a roadmap through a world spinning out of control. Premillennialist evangelicals have erected mega-churches, shaped the culture wars, made and destroyed presidential hopefuls, and brought meaning to millions of believers. Narrating the story of modern evangelicalism from the perspective of the faithful, Sutton demonstrates how apocalyptic thinking continues to exert enormous influence over the American mainstream today.