Theses/Dissertations - History

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    “My country ‘tis of thee” : How the anti-establishment narrative of church history led Baptists to embrace America.
    (2023-08) Huneycutt, Jacob T., 1999-; Elder, Robert, 1981-
    This thesis traces the development, use, and influence of the “Anti-establishment Narrative of Church History,” particularly among white, southern Baptists in the United States between the Revolutionary War period and the early twentieth century. This narrative, which originated in late-sixteenth century England, portrayed church-state establishment, power, and money as having tarnished the church from the time of Constantine onward. Southern, white Baptist leaders of various sorts often appealed to this narrative of church history as a warning. The narrative consistently influenced how they interpreted intra-denominational and political disputes. Ironically, even though this narrative decried the church and the state becoming intertwined, from the time of the Revolutionary War onward, Baptists influenced by it embraced America. Due to the United States’ republican and disestablished character, Baptists felt that after centuries of true Christianity being oppressed, America was God’s deliverance.
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    Readers, writers, and missionary print culture in the early American republic.
    (May 2023) Loucks, Ellen, 1999-; Elder, Robert, 1981-
    This thesis examines American Christians’ sense of citizenry during the first several decades of the foreign missions movement and interrogates how revivalism, denominationalism, the mass media market, and global Christianity converged in civic religion. Taking missionary print culture as its main source base for understanding the mentality of American missionaries and their advocates, this thesis is driven by one overarching question: how did reading about foreign missions influence personal and group identity in America? The foreign missions movement concurrently challenged and affirmed Americans’ longtime nationalistic feeling by extending their sympathies beyond the physical borders of their country. Paradoxically, they could become more American by engaging in the new global networks that foreign missions provided. Reading about the success and failure of foreign missions taught Americans to conceptualize their devotional lives, financial resources, educational institutions, and children in novel ways.
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    Sex positionality : a history of the role of gender and race in mid-to-late-twentieth-century evangelical sex literature.
    (May 2023) Heatherly, Katlyn L., 1998-; Turpin, Andrea Lindsay.
    This thesis examines evangelical sex manuals, marriage guides, and purity literature from 1967 to 2016 and argues that evangelical authors created different rhetorics, ideals, and sexual ethics based on their gendered and racial positions in evangelicalism. I first look to gender and argue that in the 1970s, female authors more readily connected sex to the salvation of the individual, family, and nation. Amid more rigid restrictions on women’s ministry in the late 1980s, women firmly claimed sex as ministry in the 1990s and 2000s, along with a heavier emphasis on purity and men’s sexual aggression. Finally, I assess the role of race and argue that white evangelicals constructed their ethic against constructions of non-white sexuality and that Black evangelicals crafted ethics which subverted stereotypes of Black hypersexuality. Conservative evangelical sexual ethics were not monolithic—they shifted over time and based upon the author’s position in and navigation of conservative evangelicalism.
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    God’s army : the CSA, the Montana Freemen, anti-government ideology, and violence in the twentieth century.
    (May 2023) Edling, Bailey Kate, 1993-; Parrish, T. Michael.
    This thesis describes and analyzes anti-government extremism in America through the lens of two organizations, The Covenant, The Sword, and the Arm of the Lord (CSA) of the 1980s and the Montana Freemen of the 1990s. This thesis first asserts that scholars and experts should make a clear connection between the White supremacist paramilitaries of the 1980s to the politically motivated militias of the 1990s. Observing this connection highlights critical continuities that help better understand the twentieth- century anti-government movement and its implications in the twenty-first. This thesis also asserts that the flexibility of the CSA’s leaders’ ideology, in contrast to the rigidity of the Montana Freemen’s leaders’ ideology, deeply impacted the two groups' different trajectories. This claim is proved by closely examining and explaining the two groups; the government agents, legal systems, and legislative institutions that interacted with them, and changes in the public rhetoric surrounding them. This thesis seeks a better understanding of anti-government activism and violence in America, past and present.
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    Jimmy Carter and the Lone Star State : an examination of the relationship between Jimmy Carter and white evangelicals in Texas.
    (May 2023) Nanninga, David, 1996-; Coffman, Elesha J.
    This thesis examines the relationship between white evangelical Christians in Texas and U.S. President Jimmy Carter. The thesis seeks to help answer why white evangelicals rejected Jimmy Carter in 1980. However, instead of focusing on elite white evangelical voices and their relationship to Carter, this thesis examines the views on Carter of normal white evangelical citizens in Waco and Amarillo, Texas. Their views are discovered through print culture, particularly letters to the editor of local newspapers and constituent letters written to their congressmen. This thesis also profiles three issues typically not included in explanations of the divide between Carter and his evangelical brethren: Carter’s pardon of Vietnam War draft evaders, his negotiations of the SALT II with the Soviet Union, and his support for the Equal Rights Amendment. Ultimately, this thesis argues that all three issues helped to drive a wedge between Carter and white evangelicals in Texas.
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    Precarity and pastoral care : nuns and bishops in the fifteenth-century diocese of Lincoln.
    (August 2022) Marvel, Elizabeth Eager, 1983-; Barr, Beth Allison.
    In the medieval past and in the modern present, English nuns have not received the attention to pastoral care befitting their position as the brides of Christ. In late medieval England, this was due to complications of gendered care. In modern scholarship, this is due to a paucity of sources. This dissertation helps remedy the latter problem of source scarcity in order to understand the former problem of gendered care. By using episcopal registers and the visitation records contained therein, this dissertation argues that medieval English bishops had a complex relationship with women religious, involving not only conflict and hostility but also cooperation and care. Modern scholarship has focused on the resistance narrative and neglected the narrative of care. This dissertation shows that both aspects are necessary to fully understand the complex dynamics of pastoral care. The second chapter provides a close reading of a letter regarding an attack on the nuns of Rothwell priory, analyzing the surprising compassion and advocacy of Bishop Richard Fleming. The third chapter considers the gendered dynamics of the vow of chastity, arguing that concerns about reputation were different for male religious than for female religious and this impacted women’s pastoral care. The fourth chapter examines female monastic houses and the vow of poverty, arguing that bishops distinguished between the problems faced by wealthy houses and those faced by poorer houses in their provision of pastoral care. The fifth chapter describes the dynamics in individual houses, arguing that the bishops cared for superiors as distinct from their subordinates in light of the vow of obedience. Taken together, these chapters reveal that 15th-century bishops of Lincoln adapted pastoral care to the specific needs of women religious. However, their care also reinforced gendered ideology and inequities that did little to alleviate the precarity of medieval English nuns.
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    An ancient faith for the modern South : southern Catholic writers and the making of the antebellum South, 1820–1861.
    (August 2022) Roach, David E., 1993-; Parrish, T. Michael.
    This dissertation seeks to understand how a conservative religious community in a slaveholding region, southern Catholics in the antebellum United States, understood their place in the modern world. While historians of the South have increasingly interpreted southerners as quintessentially modern and American, scholars of American Catholicism have often stressed the differences between nineteenth-century Catholics and other Americans. Integrating these scholarly conversations, this dissertation investigates an important question: how modern were Catholics in the antebellum South? To find an answer, this study examines the writings of southern Catholic authors before the Civil War—novels, newspapers, monthlies, poems, histories, almanacs, pamphlets—in an effort to understand how these writers understood their place in their region and nation. Scrutiny of these sources reveals a number of important themes that link these Catholics to modernity. For one thing, progress permeated their thinking, inclining them to assume the near ascendancy of their faith in the United States. For another, Catholics also engaged with Romanticism, whose aesthetics shaped their literary culture and whose particularism wended its way into Catholics’ republicanism and nationalism. Turning to the issue of slavery, Catholics had, on account of their hierarchical theology, some affinities for the hierarchies embedded with the slave South, yet they hardly styled slavery as antimodern. Slavery, they believed, was a vehicle for progress, though Catholics in the Lower South believed it more fundamental to a well-ordered society than fellow communicants in the Upper South, who imagined a future without enslavement. Fundamentally, though, their defenses of slavery were always defenses of private property, with the most important southern Catholic apologia for slavery being a Christian defense of the interstate slave trade. This defense of individual property rights, combined with their difficulty understanding problems within slaveholding as systemic issues, allowed Catholics sincere in their commitment to paternalism to justify the slave trade at the heart of the South’s capitalist economy. Thus, Catholics maintained their distinctive religious beliefs even as they adopted new technologies, embraced progress, interacted with Romanticism, defended individual rights, and supported slavery’s capitalism. In all this, they were not only Catholics but also modern southerners.
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    Saint of the Republic : Martin Luther, myth, and national identity in antebellum America.
    (August 2022) Young, Samuel L., 1990-; Elder, Robert, 1981-; Kidd, Thomas S.
    This dissertation examines the reception of Martin Luther within American culture, from the colonial period to Reconstruction. Just as scholars have delineated German “Luther myths” from the early modern era to the twentieth century, I argue that a distinct American Luther myth came into existence at the end of the eighteenth century and pervaded American culture by 1850. The narrative of the myth was quite simple: in his efforts against the Roman Catholic Church, Luther proved himself a champion of religious liberty, freedom of conscience, and individual rights—republican civic virtues that would only gain widespread validation with the American Revolution and the founding of the United States. Thus, Luther could be touted as a proto-American hero, a man whose actions and teachings anticipated a nation founded 250 years after his death. Ironically, Luther’s mythical status was aided by the lack of comprehensive engagement with his writings and theology. Depending mostly on second-hand historical accounts, Luther’s reputation remained unhindered by his unpopular theological conclusions among his American devotees who instead focused on his world-historical significance. While American Lutherans were instrumental in publishing Luther-related materials, non-Lutherans were the chief cultivators of the American Luther myth. They claimed the reformer as a champion of American civic virtues and a universal exemplar for American citizenship. As Americans divided over questions of race, gender, and party politics, they attempted to apply the Luther myth to these contemporary concerns. The myth proved quite malleable in that it could appeal to opposing sides of these debates, but such disparate uses led some to abandon the myth for its apparent incoherence and vacuity. Others tried to expose the ways in which myth benefitted those in power. Luther’s place as a universal exemplar for Americans was questioned by those who wondered if the Protestant liberty he had established (and America protected) was truly universal. The American Luther myth asserted that Luther was a proto-American and that the United States, at its root, was a Protestant nation. Though not without its critics, this vision of Luther’s foundational relationship to the United States endured through the nineteenth century to the present.
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    Slavery in Texas
    (1933) Engelking, Johanna Rosa; Guittard, Francis G.; Baylor University.
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    Periodical participants : women in conservative and mainline Protestant periodicals, 1956-1970.
    (2020-04-06) Higgins, Abigail Edell, 1996-; Hankins, Barry, 1956-
    In mid-twentieth century Protestantism, women were active within churches and parachurch organizations, yet in the minority in religious leadership. This thesis treats their religious participation in a form outside pews or pulpits: print. Examining six periodicals from the mid-1950s until 1970—Christianity Today, Moody Monthly, United Evangelical Action, the Christian Century, Christianity and Crisis, and the Watchman-Examiner—it contrasts their writings to men’s on quantitative and qualitative levels. It also compares conservative and mainline periodicals. Within periodicals, women wrote frequently in poetry and fiction; thus, this thesis also examines the standalone literary contributions of women who simultaneously wrote for these magazines. Women’s participation in religious magazines was limited but present, and examining the topics and genres of their writings in periodicals and elsewhere illuminates broader religious practice. As both insiders and outsiders, women contributed to white Protestant periodical and literary discourse, though often in different quantities and genres than men.
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    “When the mass of men is made better” : drugs, violence, and evangelical reformism in Britain’s imperial expansion, 1794-1839.
    (2022-04-19) Bellamy, Andrew, 1999-; Stubenrauch, Joseph.
    Scholarship on nineteenth-century Britain’s imperial expansion has long portrayed war against Qing China (1839-1842) as an illogical and immoral act. This thesis challenges this conception, arguing that pro-war Britons depicted aggression as an extension of Britain’s early nineteenth-century tradition of reform. Chapter One argues that Britons’ conflations of evangelical Christian and free trade thought created a moral obligation to spread reform globally. As Chapter Two shows, these ideas particularly encouraged aggression in China, where evangelical missionaries and opium merchants appealed to a providential design to reform a supposedly backward China through violence. Chapter Three demonstrates that domestic supporters of war similarly justified aggression by picturing themselves as exemplars and exporters of reform through both the global opium traffic and war. That war’s proponents cast violence as a means of reform suggests that Britain’s self-fashioned identity as a beacon of modernity relied upon, rather than contradicted, its power as an imperial force backed by threats to spread “civilization” through violence.
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    Romancing the new evangelical woman.
    (2022-04-28) Fenske, Emma K., 1998-; Coffman, Elesha J.
    This project examines women’s Christian historical fiction romance novels in order to understand the evangelical identity and the rise of the Christian Right. The chapters are interlocking essays that could be published as separate articles. Chapter One identifies the emergence of the marketplace phenomenon of Christian historical fiction romance novels within the evangelical print media marketplace and argues that these books should be taken seriously within historical scholarship. Chapter Two reanalyzes the source material of the first chapter through the lens of women and gender theory to amplify the voices of women within the research. Chapter Three utilizes the theory in Chapter Two to analyze Family Values from the perspective of women as they helped cement the rise of the Christian Right. This thesis adds new sources and angles of analysis to the scholarship on the rise of the Christian Right.
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    The Vanguard of God : Pentecostals and charismatics in the religious right.
    (2022-05-02) Sears, Brian C., 1990-; Hankins, Barry, 1956-
    This thesis explores the ways in which Pentecostals and charismatics have engaged in politics in the past 120 years, and shows that rather than shared theology, a commitment to right-wing politics has proven to be the main driver of ecumenical rapprochement between white, conservative Protestants in the United States. Chapters include discussions of: early white Pentecostals involvement in and support for the Second Ku Klux Klan (1915-1945); the vanguardist ideology of the Latter Rain Movement (1948-1970) and its effect on the charismatic movement; the shepherding movement’s (1975-1990) attempts to organize the charismatic movement as it developed deep ties with Christian Reconstructionists, using right-wing political connections to salve conflict within the charismatic movement; the New Apostolic Reformation’s (1990-present) development, addressing the overt dominionist turn the movement took beginning in 2008, concluding with the 2016 election of the movement’s anointed candidate, Donald Trump.
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    “Of old Puritan stock” : shifting Catholic memory of the Puritans across the long nineteenth century, 1788–1920.
    (2022-04-28) Hadacek, Ella P., 1994-; Turpin, Andrea Lindsay.
    Tracing American Catholic rhetorical uses of Puritan memory across the long nineteenth century, this thesis argues that shifts in memory demonstrate how American Catholics negotiated their place in society using stories and ideas usually associated with Protestants. During the antebellum era, Catholics used “Puritan” to mean bigot and hypocrite, but Civil War-era rhetoric connected North and Union with “Puritan,” catalyzing a shift in the meaning of “Puritan” among American-born Catholics and converts to Catholicism in the North. This group used positive memory of the Puritans to position themselves as loyal Americans and the heirs of Puritan fervor. After an introduction, the next two chapters use published sources by American Catholics to chronologically follow changing sentiment. The final two chapters take a thematic approach, examining Catholic assertions of Puritan blood and theological ancestry claims and exploring the writings of Catholic women about the Puritans through the lens of gender and nation.
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    The soil and the soul : religion and agriculture in colonial New England, 1650-1800.
    (2021-11-15) Craven, Alyssa Gerhardt, 1989-; Turpin, Andrea Lindsay.
    This dissertation explores published literature of the New England colonies relating to agriculture from the point of English settlement to 1800. While many works have sought to recover the realities of agriculture during the colonial period, this work asks about the intellectual ideal of American farming instead. How was farming and the work of agriculture portrayed during the colonial period? How did religion and gender factor into the ideal of the American farmer? What were the implications of these streams of rhetoric for the rise of republican political ideology? How did the ideal of the American farmer help to create a cohesive national identity amid political conflict with the British Empire? This dissertation argues that from the beginning of colonization, Americans have articulated elements of an “agrarian myth” that has encapsulated concepts of religion, gender, and politics and has been essential in creating a core element of American identity. Though many scholars have recognized the role of the agrarian myth in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, this common timeline ignores the manifestations of this rhetoric that were present prior to the American Revolution. While forms of agrarian rhetoric changed many times over the course of the colonial period, the framework of meaning articulated by Puritan sermons and literature in terms of farming and the land persisted up through the American Revolution, where it merged with the doctrines of republicanism to form a distinctly American understanding of the land and the people who worked it. This agrarian myth has emerged most dominantly at times of crisis or change in American history. As social, political, or religious pressures mounted, there was a noticeable uptick in the use of the agrarian myth to hearken back to an age of greater fortitude in the moral and social order. This agrarian myth has rarely, if ever, captured the true reality of American farmers, but rather has proved a useful tool of rhetoric. In times of economic change and growth, or political and social instability, the use of the agrarian myth has sought to demarcate what is, or what should be, the “true” American experience.
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    An historiographical appraisal of the writings of Nicolas M. Zernov.
    (1976) Barrett, Roby C.; Daniel, Wallace; Baylor University.
    Purpose of the Study; The purpose of this study is to place the writings of Nicolas M. Zernov in their proper relation­ship to Russian historical and protest literature, and to provide a synthesis of Zernov's numerous publications that deal with Russian history. With the exception of the family chronicle, no work on Zernov has been published, and the chronicle does not include an analysis of his writings or the place of those writings in any Russian literary tradition. Procedure: The author examined all of the available refer­ences, both primary and secondary, which pertained to Zernov and Russian historiography. The references included Zernov's writings, both articles and books, and an interview with Zernov at Oxford in March,1975. The works on Russian historiography came, primarily from the Staatsbibliothek, the library of the Seminarfuer Geschichte Osteuropas, the library of the Seminarfuer Slavische Philologie, and the Universitaetsbibliothek Muenchen, all of which are located in Munich, West Germany. Other libraries used included those at Baylor University, Southern Methodist University,and the University of Texas at Austin. The private collections of Dr. Wallace Daniel and myself were also researched. Findings: Zernov's approach to Russian history has been basically different from that of other Russian historians. For him, the historical narrative was the medium through which he presented a moral approach to politics and socia lrelationships. Using the social and political institutions of Kiev as the ideal, Zernov compared and criticized the subsequent periods of Russian history. Zernov's descriptions reflected his consistent criticism of Western secularism and his belief in the spiritual mission of Russian Orthodoxy. Such pronouncements place Zernov squarely within the protest tradition of Russian literature. Conclusion; Zernov's writings represented a marriage of the political traditions of Western democratic liberalism and the spiritualism of the Slavophiles and Russian Orthodoxy. Zernov gave a moral and ethical interpretation of the political and social institutions of Russian history. He called for the union of Russian Orthodox spirituality and morality and the democratic political institutions of the West.
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    The compassionate college woman and the confident college man : examining gender and race at American colleges from 1890 to 1910.
    (2021-04-27) Reifsteck Gage, Cynthia, 1996-; Turpin, Andrea Lindsay.
    Students attending higher education institutions during Progressive Era America consistently admired confidence in men and compassion in women. With the immense social changes during this time period, a mix of gender ideals existed on college campuses, shifting from previously held values in the mid-nineteenth century to more recently adopted ones. The traits these college students praised throughout this era demonstrate the attitudes of young adults surrounding gender and race. While Black students often experienced and understood gender differently from white students, both jointly embraced certain ideals of successful manhood and womanhood. This thesis offers an examination of the college campus cultural moment from 1890 to 1910 by exploring student discourse around the intersectionality of race and gender.
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    The slave code of Texas.
    (1929) Lockhart, W. E.
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    An examination of English Catholic preaching under Queen Mary I, 1553-1558.
    (2020-08-03) Wilson, Eric Joseph, 1996-; Barr, Beth Allison.
    An examination of English printed sermons during the reign of Queen Mary I, showing their similarities to other Catholic Reformation sermons and demonstrating their place in the evolution of English homiletics.
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    Educating the Protestant International : the influence of Halle Pietism in eighteenth-century charity education.
    (2020-07-02) Ortiz, Samantha L., 1995-; Kidd, Thomas S.
    Scholars have accepted the general influence of August Hermann Francke and Halle Pietism among English-speaking Protestant groups in the eighteenth century. One of the institutional byproducts of Francke’s influence was the number of charity schools and orphanages that claimed to be imitating his famous orphan house in Halle. This study will assess the extent to which claimants succeeded or failed in following the Halle model. The examples studied here do not capture the entire geographical extent of the influence of Halle Pietism, as they are limited to the personal and institutional networks mediated through the British Empire that developed after the Glorious Revolution. Previous studies have confined analyses of these imitations of Halle to their own settings without global comparison. This study also seeks to continue the recent global turn within studies of international Protestantism by including the cooperative Protestant activity in India within its scope.