This course introduces students to the history of religion and politics in America from the English settlements of Virginia and Massachusetts Bay during the early 17th century through the constitutional debates of the 1780s. It pays attention to both formal legal issues regarding religious establishments and wider matters concerning political sentiments and their relationship to religious ideas or values. The course does not advocate a defining argument or single ideological “point”; rather, it facilitates a series of observations of how different positions on the role of religion in early America made sense in their respective historical contexts. Social, political, and intellectual variables made for shifting understandings of what religious ideas mattered to public life in America and how those ideas ought to shape civil affairs.
- Fall 2015: taught by Prof. Mark Valeri
- Fall 2019: taught by Prof. Mark Valeri
This course can be challenging at times, but the information learned is quite interesting.
— Fall 2019
The lectures and readings are very interesting and engaging. I enjoyed coming to class.
— Fall 2019