Departments of English, American Studies and Religious Studies
My project centers on the Princeton Seminary Professor and Theologian,
Charles Hodge. Hodge taught at Princeton Seminary for over fifty years
and had immense national influence when it came to nineteenth-century
Protestantism. What stuns any scholar who takes even a passing interest
in Hodge is just how little work has been done on his life and thought.
While certain strains of his thinking have been mined time and again,
other aspects such as his relationship to such important movements as
revivalism and transcendentalism have gone largely unexamined. Even though
some scholarship on Hodge has appeared as introductions to various reprints
of his works or in more general discussions of "The Princeton Theology,"
large portions of the most significant scholarship on Hodge remains buried
in unpublished dissertations. Taken in total, the work that has been done
amounts to only bits and pieces, providing often all too cryptic glimpses
into both the sources and true breadth of his influence.
To begin to remedy this lack of scholarly attention, I have decided to
undertake what for all intents and purposes will be the synthetic treatment
of Hodge's life and thought. I have begun in earnest a book-length project
designed to be part biography and part cultural exposé of American
Protestantism's interaction with other aspects of American culture in
the nineteenth century using Charles Hodge and his connection to his era's
print culture as a focal point for these wider discussions.
My desire is to chronicle not only Hodge's life, but the dynamic interplay
between the world in which he lived and the ways he attempted to influence
that world. The subtitle of my project, "A Study in Influence"
points to my desire to explore how Hodge's influence stood in dynamic
dialogue with the sources that influenced him. His life and thinking intersected
in highly significant ways with such important American phenomena as the
rise and fall of the Whig party, New England Transcendentalism, the Second
Great Awakening, Slavery, the fragmentation of American Protestantism,
the nation's growing interest in physical sciences such as biology and
geology, a growing consciousness of defining American character and history,
the professionalization of American medicine, and the rising popularity
of Darwinian thought.
This fellowship allowed me to make significant progress in a number of
areas. There is no better place than Princeton University to study the
life of Charles Hodge. Almost all known Hodge papers are either located
in the special collections of Princeton University or Princeton Seminary.
Upon his death, Hodge's family collected these papers and deposited them
mainly in the Princeton Library, and also sought out the other side of
the correspondence from an impressive number of individuals who they knew
had enjoyed significant interaction with Hodge. I spent much of my time
this past summer in the Hodge papers. I also mined two other collections
pertinent to my interest in Hodge: first, the substantial papers of Ashbel
Green in the Green (who was a pivotal figure in establishing Princeton
Seminary) and second, the historical records the University holds which
focus on the development of Princeton both as a university and as a town
in the nineteenth century.
The fellowship was an immense help to my work, and I am immensely grateful