Readings and Discussion

This is a graduate seminar. I take it for granted that as a member of the seminar you will thoroughly complete all of the required readings in advance of our meetings and contribute thoughtfully and collegially to the discussion each week. It wouldn’t hurt to read or skim or read reviews of at least some of the suggested readings as well. Before the start of class each week, you should respond substantively (at least a paragraph) to the critical reviews and discussion questions posted that week.

Critical Reviews

At the first seminar meeting, you will sign up for two critical reviews during the semester. Your task for the critical reviews is to set the main book for the week in its historical and historiographical context. To prepare you should carefully read the book and its reviews. Also read related works from the suggested readings or that you find on your own, especially if they are cited in the main book for each week. You will then publish a post of no more than 1,000 words on the course blog which briefly summarizes the book, explains its position in the fields of American religion and the history of capitalism, explicates the theories or methodologies that underpin the book, and assesses the book’s research and argumentation. The blog post should be published no later than Saturday evening noon on Sunday before the seminar meets.

During the week that you write your review, you will co-lead the seminar. In your blog post, include at least three questions to prompt class discussion. These questions do not count toward the word limit.

Research Project

You will complete a research project—either a digital project or an essay—on a question of your choice relating to religion and capitalism. If the project takes the form of a research paper, it should be the length of a journal article, i.e., roughly 8,000 to 10,000 words. Whatever form this project takes, it should contain at least the following elements:

  • a clearly stated research question and explanation of significance,
  • analysis of secondary and theoretical work related to your question,
  • evidence and argumentation from primary and secondary sources, and
  • citations appropriate to the form of the project.

You will be expected to complete the following steps for your project:

  • Discussion (no later than week 3): Arrange to meet me to discuss the possible form and topic for your project.
  • Proposal (due week 5): Write a proposal of no more than three double-spaced pages describing your question, your sources, your method, and the form of your project.
  • Preliminary bibliography (due week 7): Contribute a list of secondary sources to the seminar’s Zotero group library.
  • Project draft (week 12 week 13): Circulate a draft of your project by e-mail or on the blog. Seminar members will offer their critiques within a week.
  • Final project (May 11, 5 p.m.): Submit your final project by e-mail or on the blog.

Be prepared to discuss your research for the project each week.

Peer Review

You will contribute substantive comments (at least three paragraphs) on at least the project drafts of at least two seminar members. These comments should be submitted by week 13 (i.e., a week after the drafts are posted).


Your work will receive the following weights:

assignment points
critical review 1 20
critical review 2 20
proposal 10
bibliography 2
draft 5
final project 40
peer review 3