I’m gearing up for the start of classes, so here’s another edition of my readings for the semester. This fall at Baylor I am teaching an introductory American history survey, and a history graduate course (doctoral and master’s students) on early American religion. What am I trying to do with the list of readings for the graduate course? Several goals overlap: first, I want to introduce students to some of the most important recent academic titles in colonial American (roughly pre-1763) religious history. Second, I want to give students material to frame their own discussions of American religion, since most of the history graduate students at Baylor are interested in writing and teaching on religion themselves. Third, the list will help me stay current, since some of the books are new to me, as well (indeed, some have only just been published).
I am only listing the books below, although we will have a number of accompanying article-length readings, such as Perry Miller’s classic essay “Errand into the Wilderness,” and Sarah Rivett’s recent “Early American Religion in a Postsecular Age.”
Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra, Puritan Conquistadors: Iberianizing the Atlantic, 1550-1700 (Stanford University Press, 2006)
Allan Greer, Mohawk Saint: Catherine Tekakwitha and the Jesuits (Oxford, 2004)
Kristen Block, Ordinary Lives in the Early Caribbean: Religion, Colonial Competition, and the Politics of Profit (Georgia, 2012)
Michael Winship, Making Heretics: Militant Protestantism and Free Grace in Massachusetts, 1636-1641 (Princeton, 2002)
Walter Woodward, Prospero’s America: John Winthrop, Jr., Alchemy, and the Creation of New England Culture, 1606-1676 (UNC, 2010)
Stephen Berry, A Path in the Mighty Waters: Shipboard Life and Atlantic Crossings to the New World (Yale, 2015) [focuses on the journey that brought John Wesley and Moravian missionaries to Georgia in the 1730s]
Thomas Kidd, The Great Awakening: The Roots of Evangelical Christianity in Colonial America (Yale, 2007) [a dubious choice indeed!]
Catherine Brekus, Sarah Osborn’s World: The Rise of Evangelical Christianity in Early America (Yale, 2012) [my Gospel Coalition review of Brekus is here]
Aaron Spencer Fogleman, Jesus is Female: Moravians and Radical Religion in Early America (Penn, 2007) [my review of Fogleman is here (subscription wall)]
Janet Moore Lindman, Bodies of Belief: Baptist Community in Early America (Penn, 2008)
Edward Andrews, Native Apostles: Black and Indian Missionaries in the British Atlantic World (Harvard, 2013)
Note that this is not simply an exercise in selecting the “best” 13 or so books I can find on the topic – issues of geographic and topical coverage come into play, and I am as interested in books that are causing a “buzz” in the guild of historians as books that I personally like. Also, being mindful of grad students’ budgets, I don’t generally assign books that are priced at more than about $32, which knocked out some obvious contenders. Kindle editions less than $20 also help.
Any books that you would add, or subtract? Let me know what you think!
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