God, Guns, and Glory: Heroic American History and the Long Culture Wars

Solicited by the Society for US Intellectual History (S-USIH) Endorsed by HES

Saturday, April 1, 2023, 8:45 AM - 10:15 AM

Type: Paper Session

Tags: Intellectual; Politics; Social and Cultural


Our panel “God, Guns, and Glory: Heroic American and the Long Culture Wars” examines specific cultural and political attacks on the discipline of history and its relation to public memory within a longer arc of battles over the relationship between past and present in the United States; that is, we examine “history wars” in various eras as one front in longue durée culture wars that continue to both exemplify and shape various strands of American thought, from the theological to the confessional to the political to the recreational. 

Papers Presented

Sacred Principles and Wicked Falsehoods: Race and Religion in Mildred Lewis Rutherford’s Educational Regime

Cassandra E. Hawkins examines the theological underpinnings of the pro- Confederate history programs in the Progressive Era, showing how Baptist confessional commitments helped shape a theology of white supremacy that suffused the “educational regime” championed by the historian general of the Daughters of the Confederacy

Presented By
Cassandra Hawkins, Emory University

History as Religion: Mormonism and the Politics of the Past in an Age of Fracture

Examines the theological and confessional underpinnings of another heated debate over the teaching of another formative American war: the ecclesiastical infighting of the Mormon community surrounding the appropriate way to commemorate the 1976 Bicentennial of the American Revolution. Parks connects this internecine conflict to broader American anxieties about intellectual authority, ideological dissent, and institutional censorship.

Presented By
Benjamin E. Park, Sam Houston State University

Howard, Mitch, and Me: The Politics of History Textbook Censorship in Indiana

A case study of one Republican governor’s attempts to ban the use of Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States from teacher training programs in his state. This 2010 incident, brought to light by public records requests and journalistic exposés, constitutes an important early example of current conservative attacks on academic freedom as a general principle and on specific historical interpretations that conservatives deem insufficiently patriotic or pro-American.

Presented By
Carl R. Weinberg, Indiana University

History, Games, and Culture Wars

Alpers connects gaming as a major site for cultural conflict, from moral panics over violence in videogames to the Gamergate online harassment scandal, to broader arguments about public history and popular memory in the United States. Lora Burnett, currently putting the finishing touches on her manuscript in progress about curricular battles over the idea of “Western Civilization,” will chair the panel and pose some questions to the presenters before opening the floor for discussion with the audience.

Presented By
Benjamin Leontief Alpers, University of Oklahoma

Session Participants

Chair and Commentator: Lora D. Burnett, Society for U.S. Intellectual History

Presenter: Benjamin Leontief Alpers, University of Oklahoma

Presenter: Cassandra Hawkins, Emory University

Presenter: Benjamin E. Park, Sam Houston State University

Presenter: Carl R. Weinberg, Indiana University