Religion now hottest topic of study for U.S. historians

Historians in the News

Religion has become the hottest topic of study for U. S. historians, overtaking the previous favourite — cultural studies — and pulling ahead of women's studies in the latest annual survey by the American Historical Association. Younger historians are more likely than older ones to turn their sights on faith issues.

The proportion of U.S. historians working on religious issues now stands at 7.7 percent. If that seems low, compare it with the more traditional fields in the study of the past — political history (4.6%), military history (3.8%) or diplomatic history (3.8%). Cultural studies stood at 7.5% and women's studies at 6.4%.

Among the reasons cited by the AHA were:

* Interest in the rise of "more activist (and in some cases 'militant') forms of religion."
* An "extension of the methods and interests of social and cultural history."
* The impact of the "historical turn" in other disciplines, including religious studies.
* Increased student demand for courses on the subject.

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