Seth Perry

Seth Perry

I’ll be joining the faculty at Princeton this fall as Assistant Professor of Religion in the Americas. I taught at Indiana University Bloomington during 2013-14 and was a Mellon Fellow in Early American Literature and Material Texts at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies in 2011-12. My research interests include print culture, American religious history broadly, and the creation of individual religious authority. My current book project – Abandoned Quarries: Bibles and Authority in Early-National America – explores the material, rhetorical, and performative aspects of bible usage in the early nineteenth century.  Other current projects include a handy guide to the history of Christianity for Americanists; some thoughts on the category of “scripture” in America; an article on biblical role-playing focusing on the life of Peggy Dow (Lorenzo’s long-suffering first wife); and a study of an endlessly-fascinating nineteenth century Freewill Baptist preacher as a window onto the complexity of early-national religious subjectivity.

I have an essay in Gods of the River: Religion and Culture along the Mississippi (Indiana University Press, 2013), edited by Michael Pasquier, and an article called “‘What the Public expect’: Consumer Authority and the Marketing of Bibles, 1770-1850” forthcoming in American Periodicals (Autumn 2014). I’ve written for the Chronicle of Higher Education, Religion Dispatches, Sightings, and some others.

The material-text focus of my work is really a way of rationalizing my compulsion to buy old (though not valuable) bibles at yard sales.  I also preserve shoeboxes full of receipts and other ephemera for future generations.