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Religion, Politics, and Society in Modern U.S. History

This course provides both a chronological and thematic overview of the history of religion, politics and society in twentieth century America. This course will encourage us to think more deeply about the ways religious ideas, institutions, and individuals intersect with and weave through broad political developments like populism and progressivism, corporate and labor activism, the rise and decline of New Deal liberalism, war and American empire building, the power shift to the Sunbelt, urban and suburban power struggles, social movements of the Left and the Right, the politics of family, education, and community, civil rights and ethnic identity, conservatism and globalization. The overarching goal of this course is to place religion at the center of political development in the twentieth century, and at the center of our understanding of this recent past. Here religion will not (as is often done by political historians) be cordoned off as an agent of change worthy of consideration only under exceptional circumstances and in rare moments, but rather be considered as a consistent, powerful player that always brings competing passions and interests, drama and controversy to the political realm.


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

Darren Dochuk

Purdue University

Public College or University
Institution Type

Resource Type

Undergraduate Course
Class Type

Date Published

Religious Studies, American Studies, History

General Comparative Traditions, Islam, Judaism, Protestant
Religous Tradition

Business/Capitalism/Labor, Family/Children/Reproduction, Politics/Law/Government, Popular Culture/Media/Music/Sports, Pluralism/Secularism/Culture Wars, Race/Ethnicity, Region/Urban/Rural, Nationalism/War/Civil Religion

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