Pulling a “Butler”: Reflections on “Historiographical Heresy: A Conference on the Legacy of Jon Butler”

Jon ButlerLast saturday, I woke up at an ungodly hour (especially for a weekend!) in order to make the 2 1/2 hour drive down to New Haven in time for the start of “Historiographical Heresy: A Conference on the Legacy of Jon Butler” (program here). The brainchild of James Bennett and Amy Koehlinger, and spearheaded on the ground by Kathryn Lofton, the one-day event commemorated the retirement of one of American religious history’s major figures. All participants were in some way students of Butler–some claimed him as their dissertation adviser, others as one of their committee members, and at least one as just an informal advisor; it was stated that this was more of a “family reunion” than a conference. Though I have zero attachment to Yale and no direct connection to Butler (besides being strongly influenced by his writing), I was warmly welcomed as an outsider and thoroughly enjoyed both the stimulating papers and discussions as well as the comraderie. Continue reading