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Women and Gender in American Religious History

Women make up the majority in most religious communities in the United States, just as they have for centuries. But the religious histories of American women are often overlooked. Beginning with pre-Columbian Native American women and ending with debates about masculinity in modern religious and atheist movements, we will consider what it means to put gender and religion at the center of American history. We will examine the many different ways that women have contributed to diverse religious traditions in the United States, from the fifteenth century to the present day, including: Puritan goodwives and accused witches, eighteenth-century nuns and nineteenth-century Shakers, and feminist and anti-feminist theologies from suffrage to the Equal Rights Amendment. We will also analyze the importance of gender in religious representation, considering for example: depictions of Jesus as a gentle shepherd and as a burly boxer, as well as representations of Muslim women in American popular culture since 9/11.

Emily Johnson

Ball State University

Community College, Public College or University, Private College or University, Seminary
Institution Type

Resource Type

Intro, Undergraduate Course
Class Type

Date Published

Religious Studies, History

Atheism/Agnosticism/Skepticism, Catholic, Indigenous, Islam, New Religious Movements, Other Traditions, Protestant
Religous Tradition

Class/Power, Family/Children/Reproduction, Gender/Women/ Sexuality, Politics/Law/Government, Popular Culture/Media/Music/Sports, Pluralism/Secularism/Culture Wars

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