Spring 2014 - Undergraduate Course Descriptions
Description of Course:
This course explores the history of the American Revolution and its aftermath by focusing on the inextricable links between religion and politics during this period. American politics and religion changed dramatically after 1776. Political independence, adoption of the Constitution, and the development of political parties all contributed to a political system that was democratized but also fractured across fault lines of region, race, and gender. This tension within American politics expanded electoral options for some Americans while decreasing the options of others. Religious disestablishment, an explosion of new religious sects and institutions, and immigration from Europe fractured American religion along fault lines of piety, belief, and religious affiliation. Instead of viewing these political and religious changes in isolation, this course brings them together.
This course will cover elections, political ideas, and the ways that ordinary Americans participated in the political world around them. The course will also address changes in religious belief, the institutional structure of American religion, and the wide variety of religious ideas and practices in the early republic, both Christian and non-Christian alike. Ultimately, this course will investigate the ways that Americans in the generations following the Revolution addressed tangled questions about how best to reconcile the demands of religious belief with political ideas and practices. Themes in this course will include debates over the separation of church and state, the religious and political implications of capitalism, the intersections of gender with religious beliefs and political change, and slavery. Course readings include books by historians as well as primary sources such as newspapers, speeches, celebratory toasts, sermons, diaries and political cartoons from the period.
Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria: