SYLLABUS: Christopher Jones, “Missions and Missionaries in American History”

HIST 390R, Brigham Young University

Course Description:

This course examines missions and missionaries in American history, beginning with the first Dominican, Jesuit, and Franciscan fathers and Ursuline nuns to reach the Americas in the 16th and 17th centuries and continuing through modern missions undertaken by Catholic, Protestant, and Mormon missionaries to regions around the world each year. Missionaries provide a unique vantage point from which to study not only the history of religion in America, but also the histories of race, gender, class, imperialism, and the nation.

Course Objectives:

The central aim of the course is to prepare students to critically and thoughtfully engage with the history of missionaries and missions and understand their place and role in relationship to the broader history of the United States and the world.

Required Readings:

  • Allan Greer, Mohawk Saint: Catherine Tekakwitha and the Jesuits (Oxford University Press, 2005)
  • Emily Conroy-Krutz, Christian Imperialism: Converting the World in the Early American Republic (Cornell University Press, 2015)
  • David A. Hollinger, Protestants Abroad: How Missionaries Tried to Change the World but Changed America (Princeton University Press, 2017)
  • Craig Harline, Way Below the Angels: The Pretty Clearly Troubled but Not Even Close to Tragic Confessions of a Real Live Mormon Missionary (W.B. Eerdmans, 2014)
  • Rebecca Y. Kim, The Spirit Moves West: Korean Missionaries in America (Oxford University Press, 2015)
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