New Danforth lecture series will examine issues surrounding religion and politics

Renowned scholar David Hollinger to open series

The John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics is launching an important new lecture series designed to further the discussion on the intersection of politics and religion in the United States.

The inaugural Danforth Distinguished Lecture Series is bringing nationally recognized scholars to Washington University in St. Louis Nov. 18-20 for public lectures and discussions with faculty, students and invited experts. The theme will be “Protestant Foreign Missions and Secularization in Modern America.”

“The Danforth Distinguished Lectures were conceived to serve as a public discussion forum that is widely influential, intellectually provocative and distinctive in its subject matter,” said Marie Griffith, PhD, the John C. Danforth Distinguished Professor in the Humanities and director of the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics at WUSTL.

“The issue at the heart of this series — how the persistent interaction of politics and religion in America influences our everyday lives — is of great import to the social struggles of our times and the pursuit of a meaningful life in the contemporary U.S. The Danforth Lectures provide a venue for exploring these issues by inviting a distinguished thinker to focus his or her thought and research on one significant aspect of religion and politics.”

This year’s featured speaker is David A. Hollinger, PhD, Preston Hotchkis Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley. Hollinger is a renowned scholar of American intellectual history whose recent research has addressed the multiple interactions between liberal Protestantism and American cultural politics. He is the author many books, including After Cloven Tongues of Fire: Protestant Liberalism in Modern America and Postethnic America: Beyond Multiculturalism. He has been a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Guggenheim Fellow and a president of the Organization of American Historians.

The event also includes a symposium with three commentators who will respond to Hollinger’s first lecture: Jon Butler, PhD, the Howard R. Lamar Professor Emeritus of American Studies, History and Religious Studies at Yale University and an adjunct research professor of history at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities; Darren Dochuk, PhD, associate professor in the humanities with the Danforth Center on Religion and Politics at WUSTL; and Molly Worthen, PhD, assistant professor of history at the University of North Carolina.

“We are thrilled that so distinguished a public scholar as David Hollinger is our inaugural Danforth Distinguished Lecturer,” Griffith said. “I can think of no one better-suited to initiate this series and spark provocative conversation among the university and broader public communities on these pressing matters of religion and politics. We are just as fortunate to host Jon Butler, Molly Worthen and our own Darren Dochuk in a public symposium that will directly engage Hollinger’s work.”

The series will be held biennially and is made possible through the generosity of the Danforth Foundation.

Hollinger kicks off the three-day event with a lecture titled “The Protestant Boomerang: How the Foreign Missionary Experience Liberalized the Home Culture.” The talk will be at 4:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 18, in Anheuser-Busch Hall, Bryan Cave Moot Courtroom. A reception and book signing will immediately follow.

Then, Butler, Dochuk and Worthen will participate in “Perspectives on the Boomerang: A Symposium in Honor of David A. Hollinger.” The symposium will be at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 19, in the Bryan Cave Moot Courtroom, with Hollinger offering closing remarks.

Hollinger will deliver a lecture titled “Liberalization, Secularization and the Dynamics of Post-Protestant America” at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 20, in Umrath Hall Lounge.