Thomas S. Kidd, 35
Associate Professor of History, Baylor University
Area of Research: Eighteenth-century North America, particularly the history of evangelicalism
Education: Ph.D. in History, The University of Notre Dame, August 2001
Major Publications: Kidd is the author of The Protestant Interest: New England after Puritanism (Yale University Press, 2004), his forthcoming book will be published later this year The Great Awakening: The Roots of Evangelical Christianity in Colonial America, (Yale University Press, 2007) Kidd is also working on The Great Awakening: A Brief History with Documents, to be published by Bedford Books, and books titled American Christians and Islam (contract with Princeton University Press) and A Christian Sparta: Evangelicals, Deists, and the Creation of the American Republic (contract with Basic Books). He has also published numerous articles in The William and Mary Quarterly, The New England Quarterly, Church History, and Religion and American Culture. He is also the author of several book chapters including the forthcoming"Evangelicalism in New England from Mather to Edwards," in Kenneth Stewart, ed., Continuities in Evangelical History: Interactions with David Bebbington (InterVarsity Press).
Awards: Kidd is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including among others:
National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, 2006-07 [supports Awakenings: The First Generation of American Evangelical Christianity] Louisville Institute Summer Stipend, 2006;
Council for Christian Colleges & Universities Initiative Grant to Network Christian Scholars, 2006-08;
Baylor University Research Committee Grants, 2004-05, 2005-06;
Baylor University Young Investigators Development Program Grant, 2005-06;
Baylor University Summer Stipend, 2005;
National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend, 2004;
Baylor Horizons/Lilly research grants, 2003, 2007-08;
Baylor University Graduate Student Association Outstanding Professor Award, 2006;
Voted Baylor University 2004-05 Faculty Member of the Year, Baylor University Student Government;
Invited participant, National Endowment for the Humanities, Chairman's Forum on Colonial American History, April 2004. Selected for the Young Scholars in American Religion Program, class of 2004-05, sponsored by the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture, Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis;
Faculty member of the month, North Russell residence hall, Baylor University, February 2004;
Chosen to represent Baylor University in both the 2003 and 2004 National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend competition (one of two faculty members selected);
Graduate Teaching Fellowship, University of Notre Dame (2000-01), with full tuition scholarship, stipend, and adjunct professorship in the History Department and University Writing Program;
Full Tuition Scholarship and Stipend, History Department, University of Notre Dame (1996-2000);
Full Tuition Scholarship and Stipend, History Department, Clemson University (1994-96);
Graduated Cum Laude with Senior Departmental Honors, Political Science Department, Clemson University (May 1994);
Presidential Scholarship, Clemson University (1990-94).
Formerly Adjunct Professor, Bethel College, Mishawaka, IN (1998), and was an graduate instructor at University of Notre Dame (2001-02).
Generally speaking, I think historians tend to write articles and books that are too cautious. While it remains advisable to do dissertations that are fairly narrow, the habits ingrained in us during graduate school often carry over into our maturing careers. Academic and trade publishers want to do business with people willing to take on big, ambitious subjects.
I came into graduate school wanting to write something about religion in colonial New England, having been smitten by the writings of Perry Miller. I gravitated toward the period after the Glorious Revolution partly due to an interest in the connection between Puritanism and evangelicalism, and partly because historians widely recognized the period from 1690 to 1740 as the chief neglected era in colonial New England studies. But I also came to view the dissertation, which became my first book The Protestant Interest: New England after Puritanism, as a prelude to a bigger project on the First Great Awakening, which is due out later this year.
Just last week I found myself answering the same question I have answered many times since committing to the Great Awakening book:"what are you going to say new about the First Great Awakening?" I'm not going to give my answer here, but only want to suggest that this type of question may reflect professional nervousness about taking on a seminal historical topic researched by many other writers. One of the advantages of tackling the First Great Awakening, undoubtedly, is that no"standard" book exists on the subject (just hosts of excellent biographies and regional studies). But I have found that bringing a new perspective to the primary sources has not been difficult. If anything, novelty has probably been inevitable.
There are always new sources to mine that other historians have ignored or dismissed. The best of the neglected sources for me is the diary of radical evangelical itinerant Daniel Rogers. This generally legible diary is probably the largest single-author archival source related to the revivals of the early 1740s. I can remember reading it and calling my wife, excitedly laughing as I told her the exotic stories I was finding there. (You can read more about Rogers in the book, or in an article I published on him in the March 2007 issue of The Journal of the Historical Society.)
The other reason that a new approach to this old subject seems inevitable is my unique perspective, shaped by my background and experience of recent history. Could living through 9/11 and the presidency of George W. Bush not color my view of the religious past? It changes the kinds of questions I ask, particularly about religion and politics, and the varied effects that evangelicalism produces in society.
Don't hesitate to take on history's classic subjects. Thinking big about future writing projects will make things easier for you professionally, but it will also help us craft a more useable past for our reading publics.
By Thomas S. Kidd
(Cover of Professor Kidd's first book"The Protestant Interest: New England after Puritanism")
About Thomas S. Kidd
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