Category Archives: conferences

Chapel Hill Bound for First @AAIHS Meeting


W. E. B. Du Bois and Ida B. Wells, Courtesy of AAIHS

I am really looking forward to attending the first conference of the African American Intellectual History Society later this week at UNC-Chapel Hill. The university is my wife’s alma mater, so it will be fun to relive some old memories there. Looking forward also to harassing some old friends over in Wake Forest at Southeastern Seminary. And I’m excited to stop in and check in with my mother and father-in-law to make sure they’re behaving.

But I am truly honored to be a member of this society and also to have the opportunity to present a paper on a panel on W. E. B. Du Bois and American history alongside three good friends with sharp minds. Phillip Luke Sinitiere, author of Salvation with a Smile: Joel Osteen, Lakewood Church, and American Christianity (NYU Press, 2015) and Edward Carson, co author of Historical Thinking Skills: A Workbook for European History (Norton, 2016) are two of my co-panelists. My third co-panelist is a former student of mine, Vondre Cash, who graduated from Southwestern’s Darrington extension in 2015. While he remains incarcerated at Darrington, he is recording his presentation and I will play it for our audience when his turn comes up to present. I am really excited for him, as he joins the scholarly conversation on Du Bois. Sinitiere’s paper is entitled “Environmental Intellectual: W. E. B. Du Bois and Nature”; Carson’s is “W.E.B. Du Bois’s Editorial Influence on Negro Migration and the Western Color Line;”and Cash’s paper is entitled “Unresolved Problem of the 20th Century: W. E. B. Du Bois and the Continuing Struggle for the Social Regeneration of African Americans.”

My paper is entitled “What, Then, Is The American? Crèvecoeur and Du Bois on American Identity.” I am contrasting two views on American identity, arguing that Crèvecoeur’s view was defined by broad opportunities for material advancement (the American dream), while Du Bois’s view was informed by a generously spiritual notion of human personhood.

See information about the conference and download the conference program here. If you are in the area, please join us.


A Fitting Way to Spend October 31


I just finished putting together a chapter for a collection of essays edited by Ray Van Neste, director of the Ryan Center for Biblical Studies at Union University. My chapter is on the impact of the Reformation on the art of Dutch master Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669). The book will be part of a larger celebration of the 500th anniversary of Luther’s famous act of impertinence, his nailing of the 95 Theses to the chapel door at Wittenburg, October 31, 1517. I was honored to be asked to contribute the essay, and I couldn’t help but think of the appropriateness of submitting on the 498th anniversary of the posting of the 95 Theses.

See the website for the Reformation 500 Festival at Union, a three day conference to be held March 9-11, 2015. Plenary speakers will include Timothy George of Beeson Divinity School, David Lyle Jeffrey of Baylor University, Peter Leithart of the Theopolis Institute, and Carl Trueman of Westminster Seminary. Plan to attend if your schedule permits.

Washington, DC Bound for the S-USIH Conference


I’m looking forward to attending the meeting of the Society for US Intellectual History in Washington, DC this week. The theme of the conference is “Problems and Their Publics.” Here is the theme description:

In his classic 1927 work of political philosophy, The Public and Its Problems, John Dewey theorized that a “public” was only called into being when problems arose that affected the common interests of large numbers of people and that required collective action in order to be solved. But Dewey fretted that “the movie, radio, cheap reading matter,” and other amusements of a growing consumer society had distracted people from attending to the most significant political problems of the day, thus making collective action much less achievable. Contemporary scholarship has often flipped Dewey on his head, arguing cultural forms, even cheap amusements, demand scholarly attention precisely because they invoke collectives, identities, discursive communities, publics. But how have “publics” been defined in the past? Around what problems have they organized, fractured, and reformed? What are the relationships, for example, between forms of media (magazines, radio, film, blogs, television), forms of entertainment (comic operas, cartoons, wild west shows), institutions (universities, museums, corporations), the state (and ideas about it, including consent, rule, and toleration), and the formation of “publics” in the past?

I will be presenting on a panel alongside Seth Bartee, Chad Pecknold, Dan McCarthy, and Randy Boyagoda as we discuss the topic “Protestant, Catholic, Evangelical: Conservatism After the Age of Buckley.” I will be situating free church evangelicalism within the American conservative tradition, answering the question, are free church evangelicals conservatives?

There are a lot of really interesting panels to choose from this year. Here are several I’m interested in attending—

“The Intellectual History of Statecraft
Chair/Commentator: David Wrobel, University of Oklahoma
Kathleen Bartoloni-Tuazon, First Federal Congress Project, “Titling the President: Negotiating Executive Authority in the Early American Republic”
Andrew Porwancher, University of Oklahoma, “The Jewish Founding Father: Alexander Hamilton’s Hidden Life”
Amanda C. Demmer, University of New Hampshire, “The Emergence of ‘Normalization’ in Cold War Foreign Policy”

Roundtable: “Framing the History of the U.S. in World Affairs: Imperialism, Isolationism, and Internationalism”
Chair: Raymond Haberski, Jr., IUPUI
Christopher McKnight Nichols, Oregon State University
Michaela Hoenicke Moore, University of Iowa
Michael Kazin, Georgetown University
Jackson Lears, Rutgers University

“Nineteenth Century African American Political Thought” (Sponsored by the African American Intellectual History Society)
Chair/Commentator: Kami Fletcher, Delaware State University
Christopher Bonner, University of Maryland, “Samuel Cornish, Willis Hodges, and the Making of American Citizenship”
Kellie Carter Jackson, Hunter College, CUNY, ‘“At the Risk of Our Own Lives:’ Violence and the Fugitive Slave Law in Pennsylvania”
Christopher Cameron, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, “Secularism and Frederick Douglass’s Political Thought”

Roundtable: “Christian Nationalism in American History”
Chair/Discussant: Mark Edwards, Spring Arbor University
Emily Conroy-Krutz, Michigan State University
Raymond Haberski, IUPUI
Lauren Turek, Trinity University
Steven K. Green, Willamette University
Matthew Sutton, Washington State University

“Rethinking the Confederacy’s Intellectual History”
Chair/Commentator: Ian Binnington, Allegheny College
Sarah E. Gardner, Mercer University, “‘We Need Something To Read Dreadfully’: Reading on the Confederate Lines”
Jonathan Daniel Wells, University of Michigan, “Race and Southern Newspapers under Union Occupation”
Katherine Brackett Fialka, University of Georgia, “Textual Healing: Confederate Women, Occupation, and Reading”

Roundtable “African American Intellectual History: The State of the Field” (Sponsored by the African American Intellectual History Society)
Chair: Christopher Cameron, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Brandon Byrd, Mississippi State University
Greg Childs, Brandeis University
Ashley Farmer, Duke University

American Imperialism, American Narcissism”
Chair/Commentator: Randal Maurice Jelks, University of Kansas
Tracy A. Butler, University of Houston, “Good Neighbors? The Rise of American Tourism in Mexico and Culture as Imperialism”
Donald Earl Collins, University of Maryland University College, “‘We’re #1:’ How US Imperialism Drives America’s Obsession With Itself, and the World’s Obsession With America”
Natalie M. Schuster, Frostburg State University, “Natural Power: Truman, the Cold War, and the Manipulation of Disaster Relief Policy”

“‘To Extirpate These Savages’: Race, Indian Policy, and Early American Expansion”
Chair/Commentator: Stephen Feeley, McDaniel College
Lisa Mercer, Ball State University, “‘As Pleasant Meat As Rice’: Indian Corn, American Identity, and Colonial Expansion”
Nathan Wuertenberg, George Washington University, “‘We May Become One People’: The Revolutionary War, US Indian Policies, and the Formation of American Identity”
James Feenstra, George Washington University, “‘There Are Agents from Some Foreign Power, Instigating Them to Mischief’: The War of 1812 and Anglo-Indian Conspiracism in Creek Country”

“God and the Nuclear State: Accommodating Theology to the Demands of the Cold War”
Chair/Commentator: Healan K. Gaston, Harvard Divinity School
Joshua Mather, St. Louis University, “Cold War Quakers: The Americans Friends Service Committee and U.S. Containment Policy, 1949-53’
Isaac May, University of Virginia, “Theologian of the Quaker Republicans: The Cold War and the Repudiation of Pacifism”
Ian Carr McPherson, Union Theological Seminary, “Window of Vulnerability, Window of Opportunity: The Debate over Nuclear Deterrence and the Soul of the Christian Right in the Reagan Era”