Historical Studies of Protestantism in American Culture (I)

Project Number: 
Start Date: 
Sat, 08/01/1987
End Date: 
Sun, 07/31/1988

Historical Studies of Protestantism in American Culture (I), directed by Harvard Divinity School’s William Hutchison, supported a team of elite doctoral students during the 1987-88 academic year involved in research and writing on Religion and the Independent Sector within the Protestant establishment in American culture. This “Lilly Research Group” met with Hutchison and Richard Seager during the Fall 1987 term for bibliographic and other preparatory work. A Spring 1988 seminar entitled “The Protestant Establishment in American Culture” provided students the chance to present in March “prospectuses” for papers which they featured in a weekend conference in May. <p> The project followed the same lines of inquiry pursued in Hutchison’s book Between the Times: The Travail of the Protestant Establishment in America, 1900-1960 (Cambridge University Press, 1989). The historical dimension of the Independent Sector served to guide project research. Researchers trained their focus on four areas: (1) Protestantism and cultural authority, especially analyzing periods prior to the 20th century; (2) “outsider” relations to mainstream Protestantism; (3) Protestant liberalism as theology and social ideology; and (4) personal networks within the Protestant establishment. <p> Student papers presented at the Harvard Lilly Conference May 20-21, 1988 offered a variety of perspectives on Protestantism in the 20th century. More than half dealt with the mainline churches and their impact on national issues, while the others addressed how Protestantism continued to shape American culture during the period.