Theology, 20th C. Social Movements, & the United States

In the Fall 2017 semester, I am teaching an upper-level Special Topics course I have named Theology, 20th C. Social Movements, & the United States! Students with a major or minor in Religious Studies; History; Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; or GLBT Studies can take this course for credit toward their core major/minor classes. All students can take it as an elective. 

The current course description is as follows:

The twentieth century saw social movements by countless minority identity groups in the United States: Working class individuals, women, Native Americans, Black Americans, Queer Americans, Asian Americans, Mexican Americans, Disabled Americans, among others, fought extended battles for basic civil rights. Theology, primarily although not exclusively Christian theology, substantially impacted the arguments and actions of these groups, as well as their oppressors. Theology, 20th Century Social Movements, and the United States is a discussion-based, interdisciplinary course that examines such dynamics and asks several questions: How have minority groups (and their allies) used theology in their efforts to gain civil rights and political power? How have minority groups used theology to generate hope and solidarity? Why do some minority groups reject religion altogether? How have the oppressors of minorities used theology to support such inequality?

This class focuses on a number of major concepts, including Christianity, civil religion, civil rights, conservatism, gender, hermeneutics, historical (un)consciousness, historiography, History, history, identity, identity politics, institution, intersectionality, intertextuality, modern liberalism, liberation theology, minority, nationalism, oppression, primary source, privilege, race, secondary source, sex, social construction, social movement, theology, and useable pasts.

As of this evening, the required readings will probably be:

  1. Carolyn Renée Dupont, Mississippi Praying: Southern White Evangelicals and the Civil Rights Movement, 1945-1975
  2. Miguel A. De La Torre, Reading the Bible from the Margins
  3. Stacey M. Floyd-Thomas, et al., eds., Liberation Theologies in the United States: An Introduction
  4. Paul Harvey, Freedom’s Coming: Religious Culture and the Shaping of the South from the Civil War through the Civil Rights Era
  5. Charles Marsh, God’s Long Summer: Stories of Faith and Civil Rights
  6. Articles provided in Blackboard.

If you have any suggestions, let me know! I’ll be making tweaks non-stop! 🙂

Students will complete small response assignments, two exams, one small interview project, and one semester project. 

Here is the flyer for this class:

new flyer.jpg

Dr. Andrew Joseph Pegoda

Categories: Thoughts and Perspectives

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5 replies

  1. Interesting that you focus on theology as opposed to the broader concept of religion. To my mind, both theology and religion have played roles in social movements.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Theology is a belief system; religion is the institutional and personal habits and structures that surround a theology (and often deviate from it). Theology is taught in seminaries, and hopes to be the basis of peoples’ individual beliefs and corporate activities; religion is that way that theology (and also the more tribal aspects of people’s connections to the holy and the moral) play out in real life.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Or, more simply, theology is the ideas; they can be written down in words, and can be static. Religion is the practices, and they have to be seen and heard; for any person or group, they usually change over time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry for the late reply…it’s that point in the semester where I am always tired! 🙂 Thanks for these thoughts, too. Will think about this much more. The way things worked, I didn’t have time to think about the word “theology” vs. “religion” that much. We will for sure talk about that in the course. 🙂


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