Friday, 3 May 2013

American Religions: A Documentary History

For my fall 2013 course on "Religion in American Life," I will be including R. Marie Griffith's American Religions: A Documentary History. In many ways, Griffith's volume served as a model for my forthcoming, Early Evangelicalism: A Reader, only in my book, I wrote longer introductions and included less excerpts.

Griffith's reader is in my opinion the best one-volume anthology on American religions, and I can't wait to discuss the readings with my class next fall. As I have been going through the book and writing online quiz questions, I have been struck by the variety and depth of the excerpts that Griffith chose for her anthology. Beginning with contributions from colonial American authors such as William Bradford, John Cotton, and John Winthrop, American Religions moves seamlessly into the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries, concluding with selections from contemporary authors such as Franklin Graham, Stanely Hauerwas, Richard Rodriguez, and Cornel West.

I appreciate how Griffith included well-known American figures like William Penn, Roger Williams, Jonathan Edwards, Thomas Jefferson, Joseph Smith, Charles G. Finney, W. E. B. Du Bois, William James, Reinhold Niebuhr, and Martin Luther King, Jr. while also integrating lesser-known names such as Mary Rowlandson, Phillis Wheatley, John Woolman, Hannah Adams, Jarena Lee, Ralph Waldo Trine, Black Elk, and Lucille Clifton. All together there are some seventy-five primary-source selections within the volume. If you are considering a comprehensive sourcebook for a course on American religious history, look no further than American Religions: A Documentary History.

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