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Religion and American Culture Caucus

Advisory Board:   Edward J. Blum (co-chair), Jennifer Hancock (co-chair), Matt Hedstrom, Tracy Fessenden, Mark Hulsether, Greg Jackson, Kip Kosek, Kathryn Lofton, Sally Promey.

We are pleased to welcome you to the Religion and American Culture Caucus of the American Studies Association. We invite and encourage all ASA members who are interested in exploring the place of religion in American life, and promoting the study and teaching of religion within American Studies, to join.

In recent years scholarship in American religion has taken a decidedly American Studies turn, as older paradigms emphasizing institutional histories and dominant groups have given way to newer approaches that focus less on official religion and more on religion as it is lived and practiced. These newer approaches are multidisciplinary, encompassing, for example, popular culture, visual and media studies, material culture, and cultural geography, and often emphasizing themes of sexuality, gender, race, region, class, and transnationalism.

We hope the caucus will serve as a forum for scholars in American Studies—and those looking for an institutional home—to meet, generate future ASA panels, and discuss research and teaching in this rapidly changing field.

As a caucus we hope to not only address the needs of current ASA members, but to also encourage new members to join by providing them a home within the association. In addition to serving members whose work is primarily in the field of American religion, we also hope to serve as a resource for members whose primary focus lies elsewhere, but who find themselves addressing some aspect of religion in their work.

Please explore this site to learn more about what we do, including sponsoring panels, a best paper prize, and on-going collaborative projects related to research and teaching.

Contacts: Edward J. Blum (eblum@mail.sdsu.edu)

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Bibliography Wiki

We have created a wiki to facilitate our collaborative bibliography project.  This project aims to chart the role of the study of religion in the intellectual genealogy of American studies as a movement.  Please help us in this new community endeavor!


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Call for Papers and Panels, ASA 2008

The Religion and American Culture Caucus of the American Studies Association offers the following Calls for Papers for the 2008 Annual Meeting in Alburquerque, New Mexico, October 16-19, 2008.  According to ASA guidelines, the Caucus may officially sponsor only one session per year but may assist in the organization of other sessions.  Sponsorship does not guarantee a place on the final program.

All proposals should follow the ASA’s submission guidelines for session descriptions, paper abstracts, and CVs, which are described on the ASA website. (http://www.theasa.net/annual_meeting/page/submitting_a_proposal/) Submissions will be reviewed by a panel of Caucus members; notification of sponsorship will be made before January 25.  Please send proposals to Matt Hedstrom at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) by January 11, 2008.

Calls for Papers

1.  The Religious Left in Modern America

This panel seeks a reassessment of the religious Left in American culture and politics from the heyday of the Social Gospel in the late nineteenth century to the present.  The current efforts of the Democratic Party to speak more effectively in a religious idiom, and the widely reported fracturing of the Religious Right, bring a renewed urgency to studying the role of religion in the development and continued makeup of the Left in American politics and public life.

Topics may include (but are certainly not limited to):  the Social Gospel; religion and the counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s; religious voices in the African-American, Latino/a, gay and lesbian, and women’s liberation movements; religion and the labor movement; pacifism and anti-imperialism; the Democratic Party; church, state, and pluralism; political philosophy; the New Deal; the Great Society.

2.  Religion and Violence in Popular Culture

Both the violence of religion and the religion of violence are all too evident in our contemporary politics and culture.  This panel aims to assess the complex interplay between religion and violence in American life through a study of its myriad manifestations in popular culture, both historically and in the present.

3.  Other complete sessions

We are eager to consider for sponsorship other complete panel sessions exploring historical, theoretical, and/or methodological issues in religion and American culture, including matters of secularism as a category of experience and analysis.  Panel proposals should address the 2008 meeting theme, “Back Down to the Crossroads: Integrative American Studies in Theory and Practice.”  The notion of the crossroads speaks to current theoretical work in religious studies and offers the opportunity for commentary on a wide-variety of religious and cultural phenomena in the American West and Southwest, nationally, and transnationally.

Though we can only consider complete panel proposals for sponsorship, we are pleased to offer assistance to those working to assemble panels for 2008.  Please feel free to be in touch!

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Business Meeting Agenda

Below is the agenda for our business meeting on Friday, October 12.  Come ready, in particular, to discuss nominations for the new Caucus Advisory Board, and a theme for our 2008 sponsored panel.
—Matt Hedstrom

I.  Introductions

II.  Discussion:  Current issue of American Quarterly

III.  Nominations for Caucus Advisory Board

IV.  Sponsored panel for 2008
    a.  Theme:  pre-select?  wait for submissions?
          i.  Proposal submission process
          ii.  Call for Papers deadline
    b.  Final selection process

V.  New business
    a.  Events at ASA 2008?
    b.  Bibliography project
    c.  Other new business

VI.  Best Paper Prize Presentation:  David Harrington Watt, selection committee

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Business Meeting and the new issue of AQ

First, I’d like to remind everyone that the caucus business meeting will take place on Friday, October 12, at 5pm, in the Philadelphia Marriott, room 501.  Please come with any ideas you want to bring to the caucus.

Also, I’d like to recommend that everyone take a look at the new issue of American Quarterly, which is now available online and which should arrive in the mail very shortly.  I’d like to take some time at the meeting to discuss the Introduction in particular, which lays out in some very useful ways the points of engagement between American studies and religious studies.  Take a look:


See you all on Friday the 12th.

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4th Annual Best Paper Prize

The Religion and American Culture Caucus of the American Studies Association is pleased to announce its fourth annual best paper prize. Any paper that examines religion in the United States, broadly understood, and is on the program of the national American Studies Association meeting in Philadelphia is eligible for the award.

Papers should be submitted electronically to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) by September 21. Papers should be double-spaced, in a 12pt font and contain full citations. 

The winner will be selected by a jury of three scholars in the field and will be announced at the caucus meeting on Friday, October 12, at 5pm.  The meeting will take place at the Philadelphia Marriott, Room 501.

The prize, a two-year subscription to _Religion and American Culture: A Journal of Interpretation_, has been generously provided by the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture at IUPUI.

If you have any questions, please contact Matt Hedstrom (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)) or Danielle Sigler (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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