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Religion and Spirituality in American History Syllabus

This First-year Seminar introduces students to American religious history and spirituality by focusing on how humans deal with death and the dead. Encounters with immaterial human subjects in North American history are somewhat distinct from communing and communicating with deities in a religion’s pantheon. They involve religious subjects performing ritual engagement with human beings across time and space—those who have “passed on”—for familial, social, and even political purposes.  Religious uses of the language of ancestors, “mystical persons,” and concepts of martyrdom and “mortuary politics” invite reflection on the material impacts of spiritual subjects in this world for various groups.  This course will familiarize students with various “Spiritual” traditions in North American religious history, paying attention to the complex categories and identities of race and gender in living religious subjects as well as the deceased subjects they engage—the dead who “talk back.”

Vaughn Booker

Dartmouth College

Private College or University
Institution Type

Resource Type

Intro, Seminar
Class Type

Date Published

Religious Studies

Catholic, Indigenous, Judaism, New Religious Movements, Other Christianities, Protestant
Religous Tradition


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