What does it mean to be “American?” Since their inception, America and American identities have been constituted through ever-evolving religious and racial imaginaries, conflicts, and lineages—forging ideological stances, symbols, and myths that rival traditional “religions.” Using a historical approach, this course explores the racial and religious imperatives encapsulated within concepts of “Americanness” and the racial and religious ideas that define the discursive, historical, and sociopolitical boundaries of American identities. In addition to examining how claims to American identities have altered the religiosity of historically marginalized racial “Others,” we will also consider the ways racial concepts have resembled and drawn upon religious forms in their operations in America. Finally, we will discuss how peoples’ responses to racial and religious imperatives challenge, nuance, and expand concepts of America and the American.
This syllabus was created for the Young Scholars in American Religion program.
Private College or University Institution Type
Syllabus Resource Type
Undergraduate Course, Graduate Course Class Type
2019 Date Published
Religious Studies, American Studies, History Discipline
General Comparative Traditions Religous Tradition
Gender/Women/ Sexuality, Immigration/Refugees, Race/Ethnicity Topics