Religion and Gender in American Culture

REST 430: Religion and Gender in American Culture

Senior Seminar

Course Description:

This course covers the role of religion in lives of American women and men, gender as a category of analysis for the study of religion, the often-conflicted relationship between religion and sexuality, and perhaps most importantly, how religion and the religious construct, reconstruct and deconstruct gender norms. Religion informs gender, but gender also informs religious discourse. American men and women practice and live religion, and thus, religion cannot be separated from the sexed bodies we inhabit. Gender matters.

We will examine the pivotal role of religion in defining and constructing gender from Puritans to Salem Witch Trials to Spiritualism to muscular Christianity (including modern constructions of religion and sport) to contemporary debates over sexuality and abstinence to home birth to LGBTQ concerns to gender performativity. We will use historical and modern case studies to explore both the nature of femininity and masculinity in the religious lives of Americans.

Select Readings:

Joan Scott, “Gender as a Useful Category of Analysis,” The American Historical Review, Vol. 91, No. 5 (Dec., 1986), pp. 1053-1075.

Ann Braude, “Women’s History is American Religious History” in Retelling U.S. Religious History, ed. Thomas Tweed, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997).

Pamela Klassen, “Sacred Maternities and Postbiomedical Bodies: Religion and Nature in Contemporary Home Birth,” Signs, 26:3, (Spring 2001), pp. 775-809.

Marilyn J. Westerkamp, “Puritan Patriarchy and the Problem of Revelation,” Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 23:3, (Winter 1993), pp. 571-595.

Robert Orsi, “ ‘He Keeps Me Going’: Women’s Devotion to Saint Jude Thaddeus…” in Religion in American History: A Reader, eds. Jon Butler and Harry S. Stout, (Oxford: 1998).

Bret Carroll, “The Religious Construction of Masculinity in Victorian America: The Male Mediumship of John Shoebridge Williams,” Religion and American Culture, 7:1, (Winter 1997), 27-60.

Krista McQueeny,”We Are God’s Children, Y’All:” Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Lesbian- and Gay-Affirming Congregations, Social Problems, Vol. 56, No. 1 (Feb., 2009), pp. 151-173

Complete SyllabusREST 430 Gender and Religion Syllabus Spring 2011

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