Education

Ph.D., University of Notre Dame
M.Div., Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary
B.A., Middlebury College

Research and Teaching Interests

I have been teaching at the University of South Alabama since August 2006, after finishing a Ph.D. in history at the University of Notre Dame. Along the way, I also earned a Masters of Divinity from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

My teaching and research center on American culture and politics during the 19th and 20th centuries. I'm fascinated by the connections between religion and American national identity, including the perennial debates (dating back to the founding of the republic) over whether the United States was/is/should be a Christian nation. I'm also interested in the relationship between religious freedom and religious establishment in nineteenth-century America, especially as it pertains to the experiences of religious and racial minorities.

My first book explores the history of American evangelicalism since roughly 1945. Specifically, I use Campus Crusade as a lens through which to analyze evangelical efforts to restore American politics and education to their "Christian roots." For information on the book, click on the cover:

My second book, forthcoming in September 2012 from Harvard University Press, is Brigham Young: Pioneer Prophet. It is a biography of the second president/prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My scholarly journey from post-1945 evangelicalism to mid-nineteenth-century Mormonism was both challenging and exhilerating. I had considered writing a study of Mormonism and conservative politics since 1945, but as I began examining Mormon History, I found myself pulled toward the earlier time period. My biography of Brigham Young emphasizes his early religious experiences (such as speaking in tongues), the transformative effect of Joseph Smith's murder on Young's personality and approach to leadership, Young's outsized family, and his thirty-year battle with the U.S. government for control of the Utah Territory.

In addition to introductory courses in U.S. History, I most frequently teach courses on the history of religion in the United States, the American West, and post-1945 U.S. History.