Religious Dissent and Reform in American Life

  • Faculty: Aaron Griffith
  • Schedule: Tuesdays/Thursdays 2:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
  • Course Number: L57 RelPol 242

This course explores American religious and political history with particular attention to themes of dissent and reform. From Anne Hutchinson’s challenges to the puritan establishment in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, to evangelical abolition movements in the nineteenth century, to arguments for a “black Jesus” and civil rights in the 1960s, American religion is full of trailblazers that push political boundaries and contest religious orthodoxies. This course attends to themes of gender, race, class, and economic power to contextualize movements and give students tools to understand the arrival of new movements and the cultural and political power of religious ideas. This course pays particular attention to the role of religious dissenters in movements for social and political change, how religious beliefs and practices have been mobilized (often against co-religionists) to protest the economic status quo, empower women, promote civil rights, and end war. We also examine how many of these movements were themselves disrupted or complicated through further dissension and division.