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Materials and Methods in Early American Religion: A Society of Early Americanists Conference Roundtable

Posted on 08/19/2010

Panel Chair: Chris Phillips, Lafayette College Scholarly interest in early American religions has greatly expanded in recent years across a variety of disciplines. This panel is intended to generate discussion about how ideas about doing research on religious topics has changed, and how scholars can best use archives, both digital and physical, many of which are only newly available. The chair invites one-page proposals for 10-minute talks (not formal papers) from any field, including interdisciplinary studies. Possible questions may include:

  • What is a religious artifact?
  • What can we know from what we find in the archive?
  • How do issues of access (cataloging, access costs, research funding, etc.) inform or limit research in these areas?
  • What might the future relationship between digital and physical collections look like?
  • Do digital forms of research and delivery offer new paradigms for understanding religions?
  • How do contemporary notions of religiosity and secularity affect work on early American religion?
  • How do we deal with “gaps” in the archive?
  • What new paradigms or metaphors, beyond recovery, reconstruction, etc., might we use in studying this topic, especially in the context of women, children, and ethnic minorities?
  • What are the possibilities for studying the place of orality in American religions? How do we bring the study of religion to our students?

Please send proposals to Chris Phillips, Assistant Professor of English, Lafayette College ( by September 20, 2010.

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