Chair of the Committee on the Study of Religion (FAS)
- BA, Harvard University
- PhD, Yale University
Catherine Brekus is Charles Warren Professor of the History of Religion in America at Harvard Divinity School and in the Department of American Studies. She graduated from Harvard University with a BA in the history and literature of England and America, and she holds a PhD in American Studies from Yale University. Before coming to Harvard she taught at the University of Chicago Divinity School, where she was Professor of the History of Christianity and Religions in America. She was also an Associate Member of the University of Chicago's Department of History and an affiliate of the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality.
Her research focuses on the relationship between religion and American culture, with particular emphasis on the history of women, gender, Christianity, and the evangelical movement. Her current interests include the religious history of American exceptionalism and the relationship of Christianity, capitalism, and consumerism in the United States.
She is the author of many articles and books, including Strangers and Pilgrims: Female Preaching in America, 1740-1845, which explores the rise of female preaching during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and Sarah Osborn’s World: The Rise of Evangelicalism in Early America, which argues that the evangelical movement emerged in dialogue with the Enlightenment. A companion volume, Sarah Osborn’s Collected Writings, is a critical edition of some of Osborn’s eighteenth-century manuscripts. Brekus is also the editor of The Religious History of American Women: Reimagining the Past, a collection of essays that asks how women's history changes our understanding of American religion, and the co-editor (with W. Clark Gilpin) of American Christianities: A History of Dominance and Diversity, an introduction to the multiple forms of Christian expression in the United States.
Brekus has received several awards, including a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, a Henry Luce III Faculty Fellowship in Theology, and a Pew Faculty Fellowship in Religion and American History. Her book Strangers and Pilgrims won the Brewer Prize from the American Society of Church History, and Sarah Osborn's World won the Aldersgate Prize from Indiana Wesleyan University and the Albert C. Outler Prize from the American Society of Church History. She is a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians. In 2014–15 she was named the HDS Outstanding Teacher of the Year.
- Strangers and Pilgrims: Female Preaching in America, 1740-1845 (UNC Press, 1998)
- The Religious History of American Women: Reimagining the Past (UNC Press, 2007)
- American Christianities: A History of Dominance and Diversity (co-edited with W. Clark Gilpin), (UNC Press, 2011)
- Sarah Osborn’s World: The Rise of Evangelical Christianity in Early America (Yale University Press, 2013)
- "Exhibit Showcases the Earliest Stirrings of American Religious Diversity," Religion News Service, June 28, 2017.
- "Chosen Nation: Christianity, Politics, and American Destiny," at The Faith Angle Forum, May 2017.
- "Are American Catholics Too American for the Pope?," Slate, September 22, 2015.
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