AMCULT 207 - Periods in American Culture
Section: 001 Religion in American Public Life
Term: FA 2007
Subject: American Culture (AMCULT)
Department: LSA American Culture
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May not be repeated for credit.
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Despite the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of (and from) religion, the role of religious faith and practice in shaping the American political and cultural environment has been enormously important and perennially contentious. Almost every significant contemporary controversy one can name, from abortion to same-sex marriage, from civil rights to the teaching of evolution, has been sustained by people who claim religious principles in support of their positions. At the same time, the practice of religion in America has itself been influenced, even limited, by the civic institutions that regulate public life.

Our investigation of religious expression in the American public square will address the impact of some notable declarations of faith as well as the consequences of some raw struggles over power and access to resources. Following a review of the foundational legal doctrines that have shaped the development of the church-state relationship, for the sake of historical perspective, we will consider several key events that have helped define and maintain a workable compromise among what are generally irreconcilable systems of belief. In applying the insights derived from these examples to current hot-button topics, we will see that drawing distinctions between private beliefs and public policies is a complicated process, often producing inconclusive results that lead to new and similarly challenging questions.

Readings will be drawn from both primary sources (e.g., legal opinions; correspondence; interviews and reportage) and secondary ones (e.g., historical and legal commentary). Assignments will include in-class exams and quizzes, bi-weekly reading responses via CTools, and a group research project.

AMCULT 207 - Periods in American Culture
Schedule Listing
001 (REC)
MW 4:00PM - 5:30PM
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