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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Justin K Tse
JSIS C 254
Seattle Campus

American Religions

Seeks to understand religious diversity in the American context and the varieties of religions in the American historical horizon including religious minorities, American Protestants, public religious expressions, and new American religions.

Class description

This course asks, “What do we mean by religion in America, and why does it matter to our society?” We will explore this question by looking at the different groups that have migrated to America and shaped its institutions and cultures. Beginning with American Protestantism, we will first examine why some strands of English Protestant theology shaped American culture. We will then turn to some groups that have been historically excluded from this consensus and how they have in turn contributed to newer understandings of American religion. Our course will conclude with an exploration of American Protestant fundamentalism. The goal of this course is to explore together how religion in America has shaped America as a whole, suggesting that we should care about American religion regardless of whatever religious background from which we come.

Student learning goals

To identify the “culture” of different American religious traditions, including their relation to American migration history

To think critically and comparatively about and between each tradition

To articulate how each tradition in turn constructs American culture

To apply a critical lens on how America has been and is shaped by its migrant religious traditions

To read classic texts that theorize American religion

To prepare students to take on the role as scholars and informed citizens in the study of religion and in the understanding of American religious culture.

General method of instruction

Readings, supplemented by in-class lectures and office hours.

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading

Three critical papers (including one field trip), one reflection paper, one mid-quarter exam, and one take-home final.

The course is taught to mastery. That is, if you master the material and express your ideas in a clear, critical and creative way you can attain a very good score. This syllabus includes a numerical grading guide that will correspond to the total possible points of 200.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Additional Information
Last Update by Justin K Tse
Date: 01/24/2014