Damned Nation Book Review Panel

Today we continue the rolling release of 2016 content with the publication of a panel review of Kathryn Gin Lum’s Damned Nation: Hell in American from the Revolution to Reconstruction. Shelby Balik, Seth Perry, and Scott Poole provide insightful commentary and Lum adds her response. There is a significant overlap between American religious history and southern religious history. While Lum’s focus was on broader trends in American Christianity during the nineteenth century with regard to the use of hell in theological framing of American life, southern divines and laypeople imbibed the power of hell on the imagination. We hope that this panel review helps folks think about how Christianity in the American South both followed those larger trends and how the region may have diverted from those trends. Lum’s significant contribution to the field, as all three reviewers point out and Poole makes explicit, is how the intellectual history of the development of an idea can be helped with inflections of cultural/material history. Rather than see intellectual and material history as opposing forms of writing history, Lum points to a way forward that merges the two, which helps us gain greater insight on the idea of hell.

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