Tag Archives: HCA

Pennington Award goes to Edwards scholar

This year’s prestigious James W.C. Pennington Award is going to Harry S. Stout, the Jonathan Edwards Professor of American Christianity at Yale Divinity School and the General Editor of the Works of Jonathan Edwards.

The Heidelberg Center for American Studies and the Faculty of Theology of Heidelberg University give the annual award to one outstanding scholar who has done stellar work on the African-American experience in the Atlantic world. The award is named for the escaped-slave-turned-abolitionist who received a doctorate from Heidelberg University in 1849. The award is funded by the With financial support from the Manfred Lautenschläger Foundation. The first recipient was Albert J. Raboteau. Subsequent awards have gone to Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, Laurie Maffly-Kipp, William L. Andrews, and John With, Jr. Stout is the sixth recipient.

Stout has written a number of books of interest to Jonathan Edwards scholars, including The New England Soul: Preaching and Religious Culture in Colonial New England, published in 1986 and The Divine Dramatist: George Whitefield and the Rise of Modern Evangelicalism, published in 1991. He has also edited a numerous critical volumes in the study of American religious history, including The Jonathan Edwards ReaderJonathan Edwards and the America Experience (co-edited with Nathan Hatch), Benjamin Franklin Jonathan Edwards, and The Representation of American Culture, (co-edited with Barbara Oberg), Reading in American Religious History, (co-edited with Jon Butler), and Stories of Faith, Stories of America: Religion in United States History (with Randall Balmer and Grant Wacker).

Stout will be speaking at the Heidelberg Center for American Studies on May 17, at 6:15 p.m. The title of his talk is “Lincoln’s God and the Emancipation Proclamation.” The talk is free and open to the public.

Edwards scholar speaking in Heidelberg

Mark Valeri will be lecturing at 6:15 p.m. on Tuesday, February 7 at the Heidelberg Center for American Studies. The title of the lecture is, “Free Conscience, Conversion, and Social Realities in Eighteenth-Century America.”

Valeri is the Reverend Priscilla Wood Neaves Distinguished Professor of Religion and Politics at Washington University in St. Louis. He also works at the Danforth C. Center on Religion and Politics. He specializes in religion and social thought, especially economics, in early America. He’s done extensive research on the thought, context, and legacy of Jonathan Edwards, and he edited vol. 17, Sermons and Discourses, 1730-1733 of the Works of Jonathan Edwards.

His award-winning book Heavenly Merchandize: How Religion Shaped Commerce in Puritan America analyzes social transformations in the American views of the economy from the early 1600s to the 1740s. Valeri charts a change in Protestant thinking, from when Puritans argued personal profit should be subordinate to the common welfare to when they increasingly celebrated commerce as an unqualified good.

The talk is a part of the Winter Baden-Württemberg Seminar and is open and free to the public.


The Jonathan Edwards Center Germany was successfully inaugurated last week with an excellent talk by Prof. Thuesen and a day-long symposium on new directions in Jonathan Edwards studies.

We here at JEC Germany are especially interested in and excited by the connections that were made. Scholars from the U.S. and Germany, but also the U.K., Belgium, the Czech Republic, and elsewhere came to the Heidelberg Center for American Studies last week, shared, and connected. There were multiple conversations over the two days of the conference about how different projects can come together. How there are possibilities for mutual aid and cooperation, and how available resources and information can be shared.

More photos of the conference can be seen here.

Getting to the Jonathan Edwards Center Germany inauguration

The Heidelberg Center for American Studies, where the Jonathan Edwards inauguration and symposium will be held, is at Hauptstrasse 120.

It’s easy to get there from Bismarkplatz, which is a main square, centrally located. There are a large number of trolleys going to Bismarkplatz from the train station as well as other parts of the city. The HCA is about a 15 minute walk from Bismarkplatz. Map here.

Even easier, if you takebus #31 or #32 to Universitätsplatz, the HCA is around around the corner. The #32 leaves from the train station for Universitätsplatz every 10 minutes or so during the day throughout the week. Map here.

The building is well marked, and easily visible. Pictures of the outside of the building are online here.

If you need any assistance on the day you’re to arrive, feel free to call me at [deleted].

Look forward to seeing you all there!


— Daniel Silliman

The first James W.C. Pennington Award: Albert J. Raboteau

Albert J. Raboteau, recipient of the first James W.C. Pennington Award.

“I have been moved,” Albert J. Raboteau writes in an essay in A Fire in the Bones,  “by the pervasive faith of black Christians that God was acting in their own history.”

Studying that faith and that history has been Prof. Raboteau’s life work. The Henry W. Putnam Professor of Religion at Princeton University, he is the author of the seminal book on Christianity among American slaves, Slave Religion: The ‘Invisible Institution’ in the Antebellum South. He has further explored the African-American history of faith in Canaan Land  and African American Religion: Interpretive Essays in History and Culture.

He reflected powerfully on his own relationship to that faith in  A Sorrowful Joy, where Raboteau speaks of his own spiritual journey, and A Fire in the Bones, which opens with a beautiful essay on how faith and history intertwine.

 “History is based on an act of faith, the faith that events are susceptible of meanings,” he writes. “I, as a historian and a believer, cannot but hope that our history is touched by the providence of God.”

Students at the Heidelberg Center for American Studies have had the special opportunity to explore that history with Raboteau this semester in a compact seminar on African-American religion.  Raboteau will also speak of this history in a free public event next week, focusing on the topic of “Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Civil Rights Movement as Precedent for Religion in U.S. Politics.”

The lecture is open to the public: June 14, at 6:15 p.m., in the Atrium of the Heidelberg Center for American Studies, Curt and Heidemarie Engelhorn Palais, Hauptstraße 120. Reception to follow.

Raboteau comes to the HCA as the first recipient of the James W.C. Pennington Award. The award strengthens the ties that bind  the Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg to the United States and the international academic community. It was created in 2011 by the Heidelberg Center for American Studies and the Faculty of Theology, honoring the life of James W.C. Pennington. An African-American churchman, abolitionist and pacifist, Pennington received an honorary doctorate from the Ruperto Carola in 1849, the first black man to receive a degree of higher learning in Europe.

Pennington, who wrote what may be the first history of African Americans, The Origin and History of the Colored People, as well as his own autobiographical slave narrative, The Fugitive Blacksmith, holds a special place in the history of the University of Heidelberg, connecting the university to American and specifically African-American history. This award thus pays tribute to Pennington’s work.

The James W.C. Pennington Award is funded by the Dr. h.c. Manfred Lautenschläger Foundation, and is given to scholars who have done distinguished work on the African-American experience in the Atlantic world. The award fosters further research on topics important to Pennington.

The university and the HCA are honored to give the first award to Raboteau, who carries on the history and tradition of Pennington.

Pennington, writing his own history in 1849, the same year he was given an honorary doctorate in Heidelberg, noted exactly the kind of faith in history that has so inspired Raboteau:

“The limits of this work compel me to pass over many interesting incidents which occurred,” Pennington wrote. “I must confine myself only to those which will show the striking providence of God.”

— Daniel Silliman

Invitation to an inauguration

The Theology Faculty of the University of Heidelberg and the Heidelberg Center for American Studies cordially offer an open invitation to the inaugural lecture of the Jonathan Edwards Center Germany:

Peter J. Thuesen
Professor of Religious Studies
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
“Jonathan Edwards and the Transatlantic World of Books”

On: Wednesday, 11 July, 2012, 18:15
At: The Atrium of the Heidelberg Center for American Studies
Curt and Heidemarie Engelhorn Palais
Hauptstraße 120
69117 Heidelberg

To be followed by a reception.

A symposium will be held the next day, on Thursday, 12 July, on “New Avenues in Jonathan Edwards Studies and Eighteenth-Century Religious History,” in the Stucco at the Heidelberg Center for American Studies.

The full schedule:

Wednesday, 11 July
Kenneth P. Minkema (Yale Divinity School) and Jan Stievermann (Universität Heidelberg)
“What is the Jonathan Edwards Center?”

Peter J. Thuessen (Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis)
“Jonathan Edwards and the Transatlantic World of Books”

Thursday, 12 July
“New Avenues in Jonathan Edwards Studies and Eighteenth-Century Religious History”

Hermann Wellenreuther (Universität Göttingen)
“Is Religion Affected by Atlantic Transfers in the Early Modern Period?”

Andreas Beck (Evangelische Theologische Fakulteit, Leuven)
“Jonathan Edwards and Reformed Orthodoxy on Free Will and Determinism”

Lunch Break

Sarah Rivett (Princeton University)
“Savage Sounds: Indigenous Words and Missionary Linguistics in New Light Theology”

Reiner Smolinski (Georgia State University)
“Cotton Mather and Jonathan Edwards and the Challenge of Philosophical Materialism”

Round Table
“New Projects and Archives in Eighteenth-Century Religious History”

To register for the lecture or the symposium, call the HCA at 06221/54-3710 or e-mail dsilliman@hca.uni-heidelberg.de by 1 July.

Summer Semester 2012

The University of Heidelberg’s Summer Semester is quickly approaching, and students interested in American religious history have several excellent and rare opportunities:

1. Prof. Albert J. Raboteau, a leading scholar in African American religion in America, will teach a compact seminar with Prof. Jan Stievermann in the end of May, beginning of June, covering the major themes and most important moments in African American religious history, from the colonial period to the present.

2. Prof. Kenneth Minkema, Executive Director of the Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale University, and Prof. Rachael Wheeler, an Indiana University specialist on the Moravians in North America, will team up with Prof. Stievermann to teach a compact seminar on the culture of mission in earl America.

More information about both classes is available on the events page.

To register, e-mail Prof. Stievermann @ jstievermann@hca.uni-heidelberg.de

In addition to those unique offerings, Prof. Stievermann will be lecturing on the history of Christianity in American from 1900 to the present.

From the course description:

“Always with an eye on the wider cultural context, the course will trace the dramatic changes in America’s religious landscape during this period, and examine central events, issues, and conflicts such as the fundamentalist-modernist controversy, religious responses to two world wars, the rise of neo-evangelicalism, or the role of religion in the civil right struggles and the so-called culture wars. While special attention will be given to the transformations of America’s Christian churches, we will also discuss the increasing religious pluralization of the US and look at the development of non-Christian immigrant faiths and the emergence of new religious movements and individualistic spiritualities.”

Daniel Silliman will also be teaching a class on the history of American pentecostalism. An intro course, Silliman’s class will look to position pentecostalism in its American context.

As the course description states:

“To the casual observer, American pentecostalism may well appear to be the most bewildering of contemporary forms of Christianity. Whether it’s snake handlers or prosperity preachers, healing miracles preformed on television or the exorcism of demons on the radio, “speaking in tongues,” being “slain in the spirit,” or just extraordinarily exuberant prayer, American Pentecostalism seems completely foreign to the culture around it. Yet, it emerged from and exists in that context. American pentecostalism is deeply embedded in 20th century American history. Pushing past the apparent strangeness, this class will examine the pentecostal movement in the United States, looking at its cultural  relationships, and its history, beliefs and practices, paying special attention to ways these illuminate America’s recent past.”

It looks to be an excellent — and very busy — Summer Semester for American Religion at the University of Heidelberg.