I understand my vocation to be both teaching and researching. The central questions motivating my research are not abstract intellectual conundrums, but teaching imperatives. How have conceptions of race and nation shaped narratives of American religious history? What roles have colonialism and racism played in the emergence of the modern study of religion? Why do racial and national identities often become inseparable from particular religious practices? I am passionate not only about interrogating these ideas but also about introducing my students to them. I aspire to facilitate the development of critical thinking (and reading and writing) skills by fostering an interactive, discussion-based classroom, by making myself accessible to my students, and by challenging them to exceed their own expectations.

I am currently an assistant professor of religious studies at the College of Charleston. I’ve taught a survey course on black nationalism and religion, an introduction to African American religion, a survey of religion in America, and a class on approaches to religion focusing on material culture. I’ve also co-taught a course called Becoming American – situated at the intersection of African American Studies, Catholic Studies, and Jewish Studies, the course explored what it means to be “American,” whether it is possible to “become American” and at what cost. I taught my first study away course in the summer of 2017 on the intersection of interfaith work and racial justice work called Interfaith Atlanta Across the Color Line. That fall I taught a first year seminar titled Not Fit For the Dinner Table: Religion, Race, and Politics in America. I’ve taught an upper-level seminar titled Colonialism, Freedom, and African American Religions and a senior capstone class on Religion, Race, and Empire. In the fall of 2020, I’ll be teaching two courses for the first time: a survey history of religions in the Americas (1491 – present) and an upper-level seminar on Catholicism in America.

In 2014-15 at Earlham College I also had the pleasure of teaching courses on theory in the study of religion and riots and rebellions in African American history. In 2014 I taught a course on the history Catholics in the United States at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Other teaching interests include Islam; critical race theorynationalism; and post/colonialism as they all pertain to the academic study of religion.


1 thought on “Teaching

  1. Pingback: Introductions | Matthew J. Cressler

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