What if the study of religion started with the African American experience? Instead of privileging a specific tradition, this course examines the history of a people who came to a new world compelled to quickly learn the significance of “religion” itself. Students will follow along by plumbing the depths of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, listening to songs born of the hush harbors, visiting the black gods of American metropolises, and witnessing the diversity of black church culture. By charting the development of this worldview, course participants will better understand religion’s role in the human condition.

Guiding Texts

Paul O. Myhre, ed. Introduction to Religious Studies (Anselm Academic, 2009).

An anthology of essays from scholars across the discipline. The volume introduces students to the various ways religion is studied by academicians.

Charles H. Long, “Perspectives for the Study of Afro-American Religion in the United States,” History of Religions 11:1 (August 1971), 54-66. 

A foundational article outlining a way to consider the concept “religion” in light of the experience of African Americans

Interactive Notebook Assignments

Below you’ll find the guided notes to help you with select course readings. These should be seen as resources to help you (1) hone in on priorities for further discussion and (2) launchpads for your own curiosity.