Religious Studies | Topics in American Religious History: Religion in the American West
C401 | 27823 | J. Paddison

Carries COLL A & H distribution credit
Previously R434
Although the boundaries of what is considered "the west" have
shifted over the past three centuries, the region has always loomed
large in American mythology. Imagined at various times as a virginal
wilderness, savage frontier, bountiful garden, and heavenly utopia,
the west has served as a reflection of Americans' wildest hopes and
most urgent fears. This course will focus on the religious
dimensions of Americans' fascination and interactions with the west
during the nineteenth century. Using a mix of recent writings by
historians and primary sources from people who lived during the era
(missionaries and converts, map makers and ghost dancers, Mormon
exiles and Irish Catholic immigrants), we will consider how
religious ideas shaped day-to-day life in the west as well as the
ways the region was imagined, conquered, and transformed. We will
focus on four case studies: manifest destiny and the westward
expansion of the United States; Mormonism; nativism, Catholicism,
and Buddhism; and Native American ghost dances.