Course Syllabus




Professor: Richard Newton

Office: Wenger Center 212

Office Phone: 717-361-1277





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Course Description

As a historically marginalized people, African Americans frequently find their religious experiences discussed either too familiarly (e.g. “They are basically all Christians.”) or too abstractly (e.g. “They are so spiritual.”) by wider publics. But what if one were to begin the study of religion with the African American experience? In this class, we will study the diversity of African American life in order to enrich our understanding of the category, “religion.” 


BaptismImage by Viqi French,, used under Creative Commons.

Student Learning Outcomes

By successfully completing the requirements of this course, you will be able to do the following:

(1)  Explain Charles Long’s three loci of African American religions.

(2)  Define religion in light of its social, material, and psychological features.

(3)  Characterize the shape of African American religiosity.

(4)  Distinguish insider/outsider perspectives on religion in primary and secondary sources.

(5)  Read critically— surfacing a work’s topic, research question, thesis statement, and argument structure.

(6)  Write cogently—holding forth about a single thesis while blending assertions, evidence, and commentary to persuade a reader.

(7)  Converse generously about the study of religion.


And by successfully completing the requirements of the course, you will be able to demonstrate your ability to meet the following student learning outcomes, which are outcomes for the Western Cultural Heritage Core:

(8)  Explain the importance of the African American religious experience to understandings of Western Civilization;

(9)  Describe the broader historical context of African American religiosity;

(10)  Give illustrations of the complex and complicated relationship African Americans have with religion;

(11)  Give examples of ways in which the concept of African American religion has been subject to a variety of interpretations;

(12)  Analyze primary and secondary source materials related to African American religion. 





Course Summary:

Date Details Due