Religious Studies | Topics in Religious Studies
R202 | 22964 | Taysom

Topic: Religious Dissent In Early America

The history of American religion is firmly grounded in a rich
tradition of dissent. In this course we will examine the stunning
variety of religious dissent in America from the time of the Puritan
dissenters who settled seventeenth-century New England to the
emergence of Spiritualism in the mid-nineteenth century. Along the
way we will meet interesting and controversial figures like Roger
Williams and Anne Hutchinson in early New England, Joseph Smith, Ann
Lee, and John Humphrey Noyes who helped to create the "spiritual hot-
house" of the early nineteenth century, and the Fox sisters who
introduced the country to the mysterious phenomena of "spirit
rappings." We will explore how and why the American situation is
uniquely suited to create and foster dissent as well as what each
particular expression of dissent tells us about American culture at
the time. We will also consider the influence of religious dissent
on the creation of the U.S. Constitution, with its emphasis on
religious tolerance, as well as the ways in which that document
spurred the avalanche of religious dissent in the early republic
antebellum and periods. In this course students read four books (for
one of these they may write a review, for the others they will take
a quiz), take two exams, and may choose one of two extra-credit
options if they wish. *Second Eight weeks only