Candy Gunther Brown
Associate Professor, Department of Religious Studies
Affiliate Faculty, Liberal Arts and
Phone: (812) 855-8929
Office: Sycamore Hall, Room 33
Office Hours: TBA
Ph.D. at Harvard University, 2000
- Flame of Love Project Grant, Templeton Foundation, $150,000 (2009-2010)
- New Frontiers in the Arts & Humanities Grant, Lilly Endowment, $50,000 (2009-2010)
- Outstanding Junior Faculty Award, Indiana University, $14,500 (2007-2008)
- Summer Faculty Fellowship, Indiana University, $8,000 (2008)
- New Frontiers Exploration Traveling Fellowship, Lilly Endowment, $2,500 (2006)
- Spiritual Healing Conference Grants, Deaconess Foundation, Mellon Foundation, Aquinas Institute, Voices Project, Incarnate Word Foundation, Adorers of the Blood of Christ, Saint Louis University, $11,500 (2006)
- Faculty Development Grants, Mellon Foundation, $6,500 (2002, 2003)
- Dissertation Completion Fellowships, Louisville Institute, Packard Foundation, $20,000 (1995)
- Research Grant, Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals, $1,500 (1999)
- Kate B. and Hall J. Peterson Research Fellowship, American Antiquarian Society, $1,000 (1998)
- John Clive Teaching Prize, Harvard University, $300 (1998)
- Research Grants, Harvard University, $2,000 (1995, 1998)
- Sidney E. Mead Article Prize, American Society of Church History, $250 (1995)
- Fulbright, Lilly, Mazur, Sarah Bradley Gamble Graduate Study Fellowships (1992, 1993, 1994, 1995)
- Coolidge and Greenman Debating Prizes, $2,750 (1990, 1991, 1992)
- Detur Prize, John Harvard Scholar, Elizabeth Cary Agassiz Scholar, Phi Beta Kappa Junior 12 (1990, 1991, 1992)
- Charles Warren Center Thesis Research Fellowship, Harvard University, $2,000 (1991)
I am an historian and ethnographer of religion and culture. My particular focus is the United States, understood within the broader frameworks of the Americas and trans-regional global networks. My scholarship contributes to several overlapping fields in religious studies: lived religion, history of the book/print culture, evangelicalism, Pentecostal and charismatic Christianity, spiritual healing, gender and women’s studies, and globalization. My book, The Word in the World: Evangelical Writing, Publishing, and Reading in America, 1789-1880, assesses how evangelicals interacted with the burgeoning print market of the mid-nineteenth century. The recent success of the Left Behind series, which sold over 50 million books, points to an enormous readership of evangelical Christian literature that has not gone unnoticed by the mainstream publishing world. But this is not a recent phenomenon; the evangelical publishing community has been growing for more than two hundred years. The Word in the World explores the roots of this far-flung conglomeration of writers, publishers, and readers, from the founding of the Methodist Book Concern in 1789 to the 1880 publication of the runaway best-seller Ben-Hur. I show how this distinct print community used the Word of the Bible and printed words of their own to pursue a paradoxical mission: purity from and a transformative presence in the secular world. Although scholars usually claim that religious publishing fell prey to the secularizing engines of commodification, I argue that evangelicals knew what they were doing by adopting a range of strategies, including the use of popular narratives and beautiful packaging. An informal canon of texts emerged in the nineteenth century, consisting of sermons, histories, memoirs, novels, gift books, Sunday school libraries, periodicals, and hymnals. Looking beyond the uses of texts in religious conversion, I examine how textual practices have transmitted cultural values both within evangelical communities and across a larger American cultural milieu. An epilogue considers twenty-first-century ties between religion and the media.
I am currently working on three interrelated book projects. Writing my first book alerted me to the significance of “sanctification,” the pursuit of holiness or freedom from sin and its consequences, as an organizing yet inadequately examined theme in American evangelicalism. Beginning in the mid-nineteenth century, a growing number of Americans became alienated from Calvinist theologians and “heroic” medical practitioners. These seekers began to reason that if it was possible to escape the spiritual consequences of sin, it should similarly be possible to escape the physical consequences that led to bodily sickness. The resultant divine healing movement grew out of the transnational Holiness and Higher Christian Life movements within evangelicalism (while borrowing from Nature Cure and New Thought movements that extended beyond the cultural boundaries of evangelicalism), then caught fire with the global expansion of Pentecostalism in the twentieth century. The charismatic movement of the 1960s-1970s ushered divine healing into mainline Protestant and Roman Catholic churches. Thus, divine healing shifted from the edges of orthodox practice into the center of the American ritual imagination.
Grounded in archival and ethnographic research, Miracle Cures? Divine Healing and Deliverance in America traces a cultural history of healing practices within the United States—explaining heretofore poorly understood global links, particularly to practices in Canada, Brazil, and Mozambique—from the 1860s, when a clearly defined divine healing movement first emerged, to the present. Although scholars predicted that advances in scientific medicine would weaken religious responses to illness, I explain how and why there is instead growing interest in miraculous healing, even where biomedical science is the most sophisticated, convenient, and affordable. The study asks: What is globalization? Why is Pentecostal and charismatic Christianity spreading? Why is interest in miracles growing amidst scientific medicine? I argue: globalization heightens fear of disease, fueling pentecostal growth because of its healing focus. Scholarly preoccupations—“tongues,” “prosperity,” “snake handling,” and “faith-healing” caricatures—are seen as parochial in global context. As multi-directional globalizing processes bring into contact conflicting assumptions about the nature of reality, and as Christians in the global South increasingly influence North American Christianity, America is shifting from a Protestant-Catholic to a spiritual-material divide: pentecostal Protestants and Catholics and alternative healers line up on one side of a cultural chasm, while scientific naturalists and functionally naturalistic Protestants and Catholics form an unlikely alliance. At stake are the meanings of health, illness, healing, pain, aging, and death, and competing medical and religious claims to knowledge, authority, and power.
Adequately narrating these complex developments will require more than one book. American interest in divine healing peaked twice in the late nineteenth and late twentieth centuries, in parallel (and intersecting in surprising ways) with twin peaks in interest in various “natural,” “holistic” therapies (e.g. homeopathy, chiropractic, curanderismo, yoga, acupuncture, and Therapeutic Touch) similarly envisioned as alternatives or complements to biomedicine. This story of interlocking therapeutic modalities is so large that I reserve extensive treatment for a follow-up monograph: Therapeutic Pluralism: America’s Pursuit of Healing for Body, Mind, and Spirit. Cultivating a “therapeutic” culture that privileges the practical fulfillment of individual needs over religious or medical orthodoxy, Americans in need of healing tend to experiment with diverse therapies. The need for healing may prove to be one of the most powerful engines for reshaping American religions, culture, and politics in the twenty-first century. In an era in which the political power of conservative Christian and alternative healing constituencies is of great media interest, the largely unrecognized intersections of these communities merit further consideration. Since the civil rights and consumer revolutions of the 1960s, “informed consent” has become a watchword as Americans insist upon their moral and legal rights to make autonomous choices, based on the principles of personal autonomy and self-determination. The ability to make choices autonomously requires substantial understanding of all material information—not only medical risks and benefits, but also factors bearing upon patients’ “long-range goals and values,” including religious commitments. Citizens of a democracy have a number of legally protected freedoms, but for choices to be genuinely free, individuals must know what they are choosing and why. The issue is not whether any particular treatment is a good or bad option, but whether therapies are consciously or unreflectively selected. At times, the drive to relieve pain has led people to do things they otherwise would not choose to do and to believe things they otherwise would not choose to believe. Pragmatic healthcare decisions can lead people to restructure their worldviews rather than make informed choices about whether particular therapies further their long-range goals and values.
American healing practices have developed in the context of accelerating globalizing processes. As a complement to the part of this story that I tell in Miracle Cures, I am editing a collection of essays: Global Pentecostal and Charismatic Healing, under contract with Oxford University Press. A global view of divine healing practices illumines the nature of globalization, Pentecostal and charismatic Christianity, and healing, and reveals how and why these topics are related. This volume’s distinguished, international team of contributors includes sociologists, anthropologists, historians, political scientists, theologians, and religious studies scholars from the U.S., Europe, and Africa writing about illness and healing on six continents. By bringing area experts into conversation with each other, this project positions thick description of specific belief frameworks and devotional practices within a broader, cross-cultural analytical framework. The book thereby enhances our understanding of lived religious practices in religions around the world.
- American Religious History
- Spiritual Healing Practices
- Religious Print Cultures
- Charismatic and Pentecostal Christianity
- Healthcare Management
Courses Recently Taught
- Religion and American Culture
- Religion, Illness, and Healing
- Evangelical America
- Women and Religion in America
- Evangelical and Charismatic Christianity in the Americas
- Religion, Health, and Healthcare Management
The Word in the World: Evangelical Writing, Publishing, and Reading in America, 1789-1880 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004).
Journal Articles (Peer-Reviewed)
“From Tent Meetings and Store-front Healing Rooms to Walmarts and the Internet: Healing Spaces in the United States, the Americas, and the World, 1906-2006.” Church History (Sept. 2006): 631-647.
“Publicizing Domestic Piety: The Cultural Work of Religious Texts in the Woman’s Building Library.” Libraries and Culture 41.1 (winter 2006): 35-54.
“Prophetic Daughter: Mary Fletcher’s Narrative and Women’s Religious and Social Experiences in Eighteenth-Century British Methodism.” Eighteenth-Century Women 3 (2003): 77-98.
“‘Faith Working through Love’: The Wesleyan Revivals and Social Transformation—Considerations for the Contemporary Filipino Church.” Phronesis (Jan. 1997): 5-20.
“The Spiritual Pilgrimage of Rachel Stearns, 1834-1837: Reinterpreting Women’s Religious and Social Experiences in the Methodist Revivals of Nineteenth-Century America.” Church History (Dec. 1996): 577-595. (Article awarded the Sidney E. Mead Prize, American Society of Church History)
Book Chapters (Peer-Reviewed)
"Global Reach: Practice, 1898-present.” In Religion in American History, ed. John Corrigan and Amanda Porterfield. Malden, MA: Blackwell, forthcoming. 26 pp.; 29 pp. incl. references.
“Healing Words: Narratives of Spiritual Healing and Kathryn Kuhlman’s Uses of Print Culture, 1947-1976.” In Religion and the Culture of Print in Modern America, ed. Charles L. Cohen and Paul S. Boyer, 271-297. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2008.
“Religious Periodicals and Their Textual Communities.” In A History of the Book in America, vol. 3, The Industrial Book, 1840-1880, ed. Scott Casper, Jeff Groves, Stephen Nissenbaum, and Michael Winship, 270-278. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press & AAS, 2007. (Volume awarded the St. Louis Mercantile Library Prize in Bibliography)
"Singing Pilgrims: Hymn Narratives of a Pilgrim Community’s Progress from This World to That Which is to Come, 1830-90.” In Sing Them Over Again to Me: Hymns and Hymnbooks in America, ed. Mark A. Noll and Edith L. Blumhofer, 194-213. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2006.
“Sanctified Singing: The Role of Hymnody in Shaping Wesleyan Evangelism, 1735-1915.” In Considering the Great Commission: Evangelism and Mission in the Wesleyan Spirit, ed. Stephen Gunter and Elaine Robinson, 211-220. Nashville: Abingdon, 2005.
"Domestic Nurture Versus Clerical Crisis: The Gender Dimension in Horace Bushnell’s and Elizabeth Prentiss’s Critiques of Revivalism.” In New Perspectives on North American Revivalism, ed. Michael McClymond, 67-83. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004.
29 additional articles and reviews.