Elesha J. Coffman
Associate Professor of History
Areas of Specialization
American Religious & Intellectual History
PhD, Duke University
MA, Duke University
BA, Wheaton College (IL), summa cum laude
Academic Interests & Research Narratives
I was a journalist before graduate school, and I have always been interested in the transmission of ideas. My first book examined how a magazine helped to define a religious tradition (The Christian Century and the Rise of the Protestant Mainline, Oxford, 2013). My second book was a spiritual biography of a public intellectual (Margaret Mead: A Twentieth-Century Faith, Oxford, 2021). My forthcoming third book is a narrative history of American Christianity, which communicates insights from leading scholars to a broad audience (Turning Points in American Church History, Baker Academic, forthcoming). For my fourth book, I will return to media history, with a focus on Religion News Service.
Margaret Mead: A Twentieth-Century Faith. Spiritual Lives Series, Timothy Larsen, series editor. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021
The Christian Century and the Rise of the Protestant Mainline. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013
with Skylar Ray, “Protestantism and American Culture: From the Vietnam War to 9/11,” in Jason E. Vickers and Jennifer Woodruff Tait, eds., The Cambridge Companion to American Protestantism (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2022), 68-86.
with Timothy D. Grundmeier, “Print Media,” in The Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Religion in America, ed. John Corrigan (New York: Oxford University Press, 2018), 113-133.
“The Bible and the Mainline Denominations,” in The Oxford Handbook of the Bible in America, ed. Paul Gutjahr (New York: Oxford University Press, November 2017), 546-557.
“‘You Cannot Fool the Electronic Eye’: Billy Graham and Media,” in Billy Graham: American Pilgrim, eds. Andrew Finstuen, Grant Wacker, and Anne Blue Wills (New York: Oxford University
Press, 2017), 197-215.
“Marketing the Mainline: The Christian Century and the Business of Ecumenism,” in Religious Periodicals and Publishing in Transnational Contexts: The Press and the Pulpit, eds. Oliver Scheiding and Anja-Maria Bassimir (Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2017), 107-124.
“Margaret Mead versus Christian Nationalism,” Journal of Church & State (Nov. 11, 2022)
“‘I Didn’t Say That’: Margaret Mead on Nature, Nurture, and Gender in the Nuclear Age,” Modern Intellectual History 18.1 (March 2021), 202-222.
“Anthropology Meets the Book of Common Prayer: Margaret Mead’s role in revising the liturgy of baptism,” Fides et Historia, 51.1 (Winter/Spring 2019), 124-134.
“On Methodological Evangelicalism,” Fides et Historia, 51.1 (Winter/Spring 2019), 72-76.
“Beyond Empathy: On Historical Disgust and Lament,” Patheos Anxious Bench, Oct. 16, 2018
“The Measure of a Magazine: Assessing the Influence of The Christian Century,” Religion and American Culture 22.1 (Winter 2012), 53-82.
“The ‘Religious Issue’ in Presidential Politics,” American Catholic Studies 119.4 (Winter 2008), 1-20.
“All Men Should Be Farmers,” CT Women, September 2014
“Getting a grip on grief in our pandemic furor,” Waco Tribune-Herald, August 31, 2021
“Pandemic lessons from the Greatest Generation,” Waco Tribune-Herald, August 11, 2021
“The Margaret Mead problem,” Aeon, July 1, 2021
“Margaret Mead’s Earth Day Message,” Waco Tribune-Herald, April 18, 2020
with Anja-Maria Bassimir, “White evangelicals once admitted they were wrong about Nixon. Will Trump come next?” Washington Post, August 21, 2019
“Can Churches Come in from the Cold War?” (review of Paul Mojzes, ed., North American Churches and the Cold War, Eerdmans, 2018), Comment, Mar. 1, 2019
“It’s Not about Paige Patterson, Continued: Sex and Gender Beyond Evangelicalism.” Righting America. June 12, 2018
“How will Billy Graham be remembered?” Oxford University Press blog, April 23, 2018
“Fundamentalists, Modernists, and the Rest of the Story” (review of Geoffrey Treloar, The Disruption of Evangelicalism), Christianity Today, May 9, 2017
Review of Rebecca L. Davis, Public Confessions: The Religious Conversions That Changed American Politics Journal of Church and State 64.4 (Autumn 2022), 766-768.
Review of Carl R. Weinberg, Red Dynamite: Creationism, Culture Wars, and Anticommunism in America Society for U.S. Intellectual History online, June 5, 2022
Review of Daniel Vaca, Evangelicals Incorporated: Books and the Business of Religion in America
Church History 89.4 (December 2020), 985-987.
Review of Christopher H. Evans, The Social Gospel in American Religion: A History. The Journal of Presbyterian History 97.1 (Spring/Summer 2019), 41-42.
Review of Andrew Atherstone and David Ceri Jones, The Routledge Research Companion to the History of Evangelicalism Church History, March 2019
Review of David Hollinger, Protestants Abroad: How Missionaries Tried to Change the World but Changed America. Society for U.S. Intellectual History online, Oct. 14, 2018
Editor, Fides et Historia
Board president, Heart of Texas Regional History Fair
American Society of Church History representative to the American Council of Learned Societies
- “Margaret Mead and Faith: A Conversation,” St. Anselm College (N.H.), Feb. 7, 2022
- “The Modern Faith of Margaret Mead,” invited lecture, Cushwa Center, Notre Dame (recorded as a video interview instead, Oct. 26, 2021)
- “Margaret Mead vs. Christian Nationalism” Newberry Seminar on Religion and Culture in the Americas, Sept. 17, 2021
Regular Course Offerings
- HIS 1300 | U.S. in Global Perspective - American Food, from Maiz to Momofuku
- HIS4369 | Religion in America, 1877-present
- HIS 5360 | American Intellectual and Cultural History
Work with Students
Accepting Grad Students, Willing to advise undergraduate theses