Religious Studies | Studies of Religion in American Culture: Evangelical America
R532 | 14785 | C. Brown

From the Great Awakening to the presidency of George W. Bush,
evangelicalism has played a critical role in shaping American
cultural and political institutions and practices.  Who are
evangelicals?  What do they believe, and how do they behave?  Should
non-evangelicals be worried about them?  This course explores the
causes, nature, and implications of evangelical influence through
the lenses of history, literature, and religious and cultural
studies.  Assignments and classroom activities incorporate a wide
variety of cultural artifacts, including fiction, poetry,
autobiography, music, television, film, ethnography, and food.  The
course will develop skills in critical thinking, written and oral
communication, and analysis of primary and secondary documents.
The course is organized thematically and chronologically.
Topics include: religious revivals and reform; separation of church
and state; race and gender; Billy Graham; science, evolution,
creationism, and Intelligent Design; pentecostal and charismatic
Christianity; hymns, Contemporary Christian Music, and Holy Hip Hop;
politics, Catholicism; mass media and megachurches; apocalypticism;
We will read a variety of brief, primary source documents,
written between the colonial period and the present.  We will also
read two novels: Charles Sheldon’s In His Steps (1896) [the
inspiration for WWJD: “What Would Jesus Do?”] and Tim F. LaHaye and
Jerry B. Jenkins’s Left Behind (1995).  For those interested in
pursuing specific topics in-depth, recommended readings are
suggested for each session.
There are no prerequisites to enrollment.  Lectures plus
brief assigned readings from a textbook will help to fill in all the
background that is needed.  Class sessions will allow ample time for
discussion as well as lecture.  In recognition of students’
different learning styles, lectures will be presented using
PowerPoint and multi-media technologies, and lecture notes will be
made available on Oncourse.  Daily study guides, also available on
Oncourse, will provide reading focus questions and highlight key
terms from the readings.
Undergraduates will write two short papers, neither one of
which requires outside research; the first paper (2-3 pages) is a
close reading of a section of a primary source; the second paper (4-
6 pages) is a comparison of two primary sources, and may (this is
entirely optional) be written in a creative style, such as a
hypothetical coffee-shop conversation between two characters.  The
midterm and final examinations consist of short-answer
identifications and essays.  We will devote class time to helping
you prepare for the papers and exams—through in-class writing
workshops, practice “ID Challenge” and “Essay Euphoria” activities,
and even a Jeopardy-style review game (with prizes!).  There are a
total of 400 points possible for the course.  Participation
(including attendance, pop quizzes, and writing workshops) counts
for 100 points; the two papers are worth 150 points; the two exams
add up to 150 points.  The first paper and midterm are each worth
half as many points (50 vs. 100) as the second paper and final exam,
so that final course grades can reflect improvement during the
Graduate students will be responsible for completing all of
the recommended as well as the required readings and writing take-
home midterm and final examination supplements that incorporate the
additional readings. Graduate students enrolled in R532 are strongly
urged to enroll concurrently in R636 or R735 (which meets
immediately before R532, i.e. 9:05-11:05 a.m., on Wednesdays); the
latter course will allow an opportunity to read essential scholarly
monographs (that complement the primary sources read for R532) and
to write a research paper on a topic of their own choosing.