Saturday, April 18, 2009

Du Bois Going Digital!

In addition to defending my dissertation and seeing Holy Mavericks published--marks of a fantastic April--I just found out that the papers and writings of W.E.B. Du Bois are going ditigal. This is wonderful news!

This will of course make research much easier for scholars, but secondary students and undergraduates can read Du Bois letters or speeches right alongside works like Souls of Black Folk (1903). There is already a wealth of Du Bois material on-line, but this project will offer ascess to unknown and obscure resources.

Having worked extensively for the last several years on eighteenth-century New England pastor and theologian Jonathan Edwards, I often consulted the Yale University Press published collection of his works. I also worked in the Edwards Papers at Yale University and Yale Divinity School. Now, many of whose works are digitized and searchable through the Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale Divinity School, and both scholars and students are asking new questions and making new observations about his work and influence. A whole slew of Edwards's sermons are now available, for example, so this may give even more insight into the daily and weekly pastoral labors of this frontier preacher. (And speaking of new thoughts and observations that emerge in the course of digital document research, read John Fea's thoughts on a project of his here.)

I would expect the same for Du Bois. The collection will be searchable, and no doubt new interpretations of one of the world's most significant Black intellectuals will come to light.

Thanks to a grant from the Verizon Foundation, the Special Collections Department at UMass-Amherst, where Du Bois's papers reside, will oversee the two-year project. It begins in July, and at the project's end will make Du Bois's work available the world over. Du Bois was a global thinker and world traveler, so it is a wonderful sign to see things come full circle.

"What we're looking to do is spark conversation about difficult issues in race, inequality, class and all these things are things that concerned Du Bois," said Robert Cox, director of the special collections at the UMass Amherst library. Cox continued: “Du Bois was a great intellectual and a great activist. He took things that he understood from his academic work and applied it to real-life situations and to improving the real lives of individuals in American society.”

I will continue to post updates and information about this project as I hear more. Feel free to send things that you find as well. Also, I hope to post more about the Du Bois papers in the summer, as my good friend Edward Carson and I are traveling to Massachusetts for research.

Read more about the digitizing Du Bois project from the Boston Globe, National Public Radio, and the Daily Collegian.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Holy Mavericks Update

I'd like to draw your attention to several places Holy Mavericks appeared on the web this week.

In addition to my post about it, my friend and historian-blogger extraordinaire John Fea (Messiah College) threw up a nice announcement post. Dallas Morning News religion reporter Sam Hodges mentioned the book and provided a link to a great story on Shayne and Holy Mavericks that appeared in New Wave, Tulane's campus newspaper.

I also found Holy Mavericks on several other sites around the web. Journalist Sara Posner reviewed our book and Jonathan Walton's great study on black televangelism at Religion Dispatches. An announcement appeared at Library Journal a few weeks back, and the media and religion program blog at USC mentioned Holy Mavericks as well. It also showed up at the PoliPoint Press site.

I'm doing a couple of Q&A's about the book in the coming weeks, and as soon as they go live I'll provide links. I'm also building a page for Holy Mavericks for my own web site, and will provide a link once it is ready.

In the meantime, feel free to leave comments, questions, and criticisms about the book. Looking forward to the conversations.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

In Print: Holy Mavericks

I'm pleased to report that my book Holy Mavericks: Evangelical Innovators and the Spiritual Marketplace (co-authored with Shayne Lee) is out today.

You can view the Table of Contents and the Introduction. Purchase a copy here.

Here’s a description of the book from the NYU Press website:

Joel Osteen, Paula White, T. D. Jakes, Rick Warren, and Brian McLaren pastor some the largest churches in the nation, lead vast spiritual networks, write best-selling books, and are among the most influential preachers in American Protestantism today. Spurred by the phenomenal appeal of these religious innovators, sociologist Shayne Lee and historian Phillip Luke Sinitiere investigate how they operate and how their style of religious expression fits into America’s cultural landscape. Drawing from the theory of religious economy, the authors offer new perspectives on evangelical leadership and key insights into why some religious movements thrive while others decline.

Holy Mavericks provides a useful overview of contemporary evangelicalism while emphasizing the importance of “supply-side thinking” in understanding shifts in American religion. It reveals how the Christian world hosts a culture of celebrity very similar to the secular realm, particularly in terms of marketing, branding, and publicity. Holy Mavericks reaffirms that religion is always in conversation with the larger society in which it is embedded, and that it is imperative to understand how those religious suppliers who are able to change with the times will outlast those who are not.

Here’s what others have said:

“Introduces us to some of the most prominent religious innovators in the United States today—savvy spiritual suppliers,’ as the authors say—who are skilled at recalibrating their messages and ministries to fit particular audiences. Religious scholars will welcome the attention given to cultural themes in the analysis, and the emphasis on more than just individual choice; general readers will be enthralled by the creativity of the producers but also appalled at the captivity of religious faith to contemporary culture.”
Wade Clark Roof, University of California at Santa Barbara

“A fascinating journey into the worlds of five of the most influential religious leaders in the United States. Holy Mavericks provides an open window to view change both in American religion and American culture. In reading this book, you will find that these five religious giants do not practice old time religion, and yet, ironically, they do. Holy Mavericks shows us how.”
Michael O. Emerson, Rice University

“Takes us beyond the scandal-mongering and speculation so common in popular media coverage of religion to provide a deeper level of insight into some of the most influential ministries in the spiritual marketplace of American religion today. Combining keen sociological analysis with crucial historical contextualization, Lee and Sinitiere explain what have been the keys to the relative successes of these ministries' leaders as individuals willing to do business’ outside of traditional ministerial boundaries in a variety of ways. . . . A must-read for those seeking to understand this intersection of faith, commerce, and politics.”
Milmon F. Harrison, University of California at Davis