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Defining Religion in America

This course examines how and in whose interests American concepts of and about “religion” have been produced. What cultural sites (the courts, the media, schools, the academy) are most influential in producing ideas about religion-in-general, or about particular kinds of religion? Who has the power to determine what groups are recognized as legitimate and therefore constitutionally protected religions? What is imagined to be the appropriate scope of religion’s impact in public life—is it primarily a private concern, or is it relevant to public interests? What relationship do such concepts of religion have with the politics of race, class, gender, and colonialism?


This syllabus was created for the Young Scholars in American Religion program.

Tisa Wenger

Yale Divinity School

Private College or University
Institution Type

Resource Type

Graduate Course
Class Type

Date Published

Religious Studies, History

General Comparative Traditions, Indigenous, Other Christianities, Other Traditions
Religous Tradition

Class/Power, Gender/Women/ Sexuality, Politics/Law/Government, Popular Culture/Media/Music/Sports, Race/Ethnicity

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