Seth Perry

Seth Perry

I received my Ph.D. from the University of Chicago Divinity School this spring.  My dissertation — “The Endless Making of Many Books: Bibles and Religious Authority in America, 1780-1850” — explored the creation of religious authority in early-national America through the form and content of American printed bibles and the practices of usage they inspired.  I’ve been teaching classes in religious studies at the University of Washington, and in August will take up a post as Visiting Assistant Professor of American Religion at Indiana University.  I’m interested in print culture, American religious history broadly, and the creation of individual religious authority.

In 2011-12 I was a Mellon Fellow in Early American Literature and Material Texts at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies.  I’ve written for the Chronicle of Higher Education, Religion Dispatches, Sightings, and some others.  I have an essay in Gods of the River: Religion and Culture along the Mississippi (Indiana University Press, 2013), edited by Michael Pasquier.

Current projects include a study of 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.

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.  My other hobbies include curing meat and (inevitably) book-binding.