Seth Perry

(History of Christianity) “The Bible and Religious Authority in Early-National America”

After two years with nineteenth-century American bibles and the diaries of their owners, in archives from Utah to Kentucky to Massachusetts, what I hope to get out of my time as a Junior Fellow is the chance to talk to live human beings about my work while completing my dissertation. My project uses bibles as physical artifacts to explore the contested nature of religious authority in early-national America: rather than imagining “the Bible” as a source of authority in the Second Great Awakening, I am looking at “bibles” as contested sites of authority. This project has required me to look closely at lay bible usage, and so I have a particular interest in hearing thoughts on my work from audiences outside of academia; the Marty Center has the resources and the commitment to public engagement to make this possible, and I am deeply grateful for this opportunity.