Historians sound off on the popularity of the history of religion





Religion, reported Inside Higher Ed last week, is now the most popular theme of historical study in America, according to a recent survey conducted by the American Historical Association. For the past fifteen years that distinction belonged to culture and prior to that, to social history. That the turn to religion represents at once a natural ramification of, and a challenge to, the methods and concepts particular to these formerly prevalent modes of historical study is indeed a possibility suggested by Robert Townsend’s analysis of the AHA survey.

In our latest off the cuff feature, several scholars respond to the news that the proportion of historians who specialize in religion continues to climb, and to reflect on both the causes and the significance of of this distinct, and now confirmed, trend in historical studies.

Our respondents are:

Jon Butler, Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and Howard R. Lamar Professor of American Studies, History, and Religious Studies, Yale University

David A. Hollinger, Preston Hotchkis Professor of American History, University of California – Berkeley

John Schmalzbauer, Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Blanche Gorman Strong Chair in Protestant Studies; Missouri State University

Jonathan Sheehan, Associate Professor of History, University of California – Berkeley

Grant Wacker, Professor of Christian History and Director of Graduate Studies in Religion, Duke Divinity School


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