The major points that people brought up in regards to my focus statement in class were to be more assertive and more specific about what I’m discussing. I’ve tried to tighten up my focus statement to reflect these things as much as possible at this stage in the project. As far as the methodology goes… this is definitely a work in progress. I talked to Dr. Quigley about some options, but I won’t really know until I do more reading to see what’s out there. I’ll do my best to put something down for now, though it will be rather vague at this point. For instance- I’m not really sure what all is involved with linguistic theory, but I’ll probably need to learn at some point!
Nineteenth century Americans lived within a society thoroughly permeated with religious ideology and moral language. In the South, white Protestants combined honor and religious feeling in defense of a southern social order characterized by the racial hierarchy imposed by slavery with few dissenters. In the North, some Protestants used Christianity as a means of disparaging slavery and calling for abolition, while others left such dilemmas to the providence of God and called for peace instead. Both Northerners and Southerners, however, became accustomed in the first half of the nineteenth century to inserting religious discourse into the public sphere normally reserved for politics. In order to examine how people understood the intersection between religion and politics, I will examine how Protestants in Philadelphia and Charleston understood the Secession Crisis of 1860-1861 in religious terms, paying special attention to the language used in religious and popular sources. Philadelphia and Charleston were chosen due to the status of each as a vital commercial and intellectual center of their respective regions. Although each city is unique, my goal is to draw out broader religious and political themes that were present in other areas of the United States at the time. Using sermons, newspapers, letters, diaries, and obituaries, I will explore how Protestants in Philadelphia and Charleston understood their distinctive duties as Christians in relation to debates over slavery and secession. I will argue that the way people understood ‘Christian Duty’ was a vital part of how they interpreted the Secession Crisis and the decision to go to war. Such a study will help to illuminate the ways in which nineteenth century Americans imbued words with distinctive and powerful meanings. These words in turn shaped political debates, expressing passions that resulted in the denial of compromise and the call for war.
 Several historians have discussed the ways in which secession served to unite Southern religious leaders in defense of slavery and Confederacy. One notable example may be seen in Mitchell Snay, Gospel of Disunion: Religion and Separatism in the Antebellum South (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993).
 Fewer studies have been done on the role of religion in the North outside of the Abolitionist movement. One exception is James Moorhead, American Apocalypse: Yankee Protestants and the Civil War, 1860-1869 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1978).
In analyzing my sources, I will rely on several strands of methodology. First, Foucault’s concept of “discourse” will be helpful because of its ability to describe a large system of meaning. Linguistic theory will also be used in the analysis of religious texts, such as sermons. By breaking down the structure of these texts, I will be able to identify the major themes being put forward. Cultural history as a broad framework will also be useful for this study as I seek to identify the religious meanings that attained influence during the Secession Crisis.
Thoughts on Bertoti– I was pretty pleased with how Bertoti went after all of the prep work that went into it. There were a few logistical issues (cups, missing presenters, name tags, etc.), but most of those are pretty unavoidable when putting on events. In terms of next year, it might be worth it to name an event coordinator to troubleshoot any issues that arise the day of. Reporting problems was a bit complicated since so many people had a hand in the conference! But overall, I felt the conference was a success and really enjoyed the chance to hear some great speakers and presenters!