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Religion in American Life

This course provides an introduction to the history, themes, and issues in American religion from the precolonial period to the present. It is divided into three sections. The first provides an historical overview and an introduction to some of the religions that have been most prominent–Catholicism, Protestant, and Judaism–as well the traditions that are native to the land. The second and third sections consider some “non-traditional” religions (those outside orthodox Judaism and Christianity). Those sects and religions include, for instance, Mormons, Shakers, Zen Buddhists, and Black Muslims. We also explore in those last two sections of the course a wide range of topics. Most of them concern the relation between religion and some other theme or dimension of American life–politics, art, science, literature, music, race, gender, class, and popular culture. This is a writing intensive class.


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

Thomas Tweed

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Public College or University
Institution Type

Resource Type

Undergraduate Course
Class Type

Date Published

Religious Studies, American Studies

General Comparative Traditions
Religous Tradition

Gender/Women/ Sexuality, Immigration/Refugees, Popular Culture/Media/Music/Sports, Race/Ethnicity, Nationalism/War/Civil Religion

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