Fall 2023

Religion, Democracy, and American Culture

Listed in: American Studies, as AMST-217


Francis G. Couvares (Section 01)


[Pre-1900] The United States has inscribed the separation of church and state into its constitutional order, and yet Americans have for two centuries been more deeply committed to religious faith and practice than any other people in the Western world. This course endeavors to explore that paradox. Topics addressed include the changing meanings of "the city on a hill"; the varieties of millennial belief and utopian community; the relationship between religion, ethnicity, and gender; religious political activism, including abolition, prohibition, anti-war and anti-abortion movements; and the limits of religious tolerance from movements against Catholics and Mormons to recent warnings of a "clash of civilizations" with Muslim cultures.

Limited to 25 students. Fall semester. Professors Couvares.

How to handle overenrollment: Preference given to majors, then first and second year students

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: Emphasis on discussion, reading, written work, critical analysis, and at least one field trip; and exposure to various American Studies readings, ranging from the colonial era to the present; and the use of various methods, including interpreting historical, sociological and other scholarly work, as well as poems, novels, photographs, and paintings.

AMST 217 - LEC

Section 01
Tu 8:30 AM - 9:50 AM CHAP 101
Th 8:30 AM - 9:50 AM CHAP 101

ISBN Title Publisher Author(s) Comment Book Store Price
America and the Challenges of Religious Diversity Princeton University Press Wuthnow, Robert Amherst Books TBD
Head and Heart: American Christianities Penguin Press Wills, Gary Amherst Books TBD
Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion Basic Books Larson, Edward Amherst Books TBD
Go Tell It On The Mountain Vintage (Reprint) Baldwin, James Amherst Books TBD
The Madonna of 115th Street: Faith and Community in Italian Harlem Yale University Press Orsi, Robert Amherst Books TBD
The Kingdom of Matthias: A Story of Sex and Salvation in 19th Century America Oxford University Press Johnson, Paul & Wilentz, Sean Amherst Books TBD

These books are available locally at Amherst Books.


Other years: Offered in Fall 2023