Final Public Oral Exam: Min Tae Cha

Constitutional Religion: Presbyterianism between the British and American Empires
Wednesday, August 30, 2023, 2:00 pm4:00 pm


Event Description


Linda Colley
Hendrik Hartog
David Cannadine
Greggory Conti
Sarah Barringer Gordon, University of Pennsylvania


This dissertation examines how religious ideas and practices were transformed by, and in turn influenced, constitutionalism. It focuses on Presbyterians in the British Empire and United States over the long nineteenth century (c.1750-1914), in particular. There was not only a struggle between Church and State, but also within the Church itself, both locally and globally—which, in turn, impacted secular politics. Four constitutional questions, in particular, are at the center of this dissertation: written constitutions, disestablishment, democracy, and metropolitan-colonial relations. For each question, debates within Church and within State did not develop along parallel lines, but rather intersected on several planes.

“Constitutional Religion: Presbyterians between the British and American Empires” makes three major contributions. First, it studies churches as entities analogous to states and applies insights from constitutional history and studies of modern state formation to religious history. Next, I show the importance of non-canonical figures and texts, especially religious ones, to the history of political and constitutional thought. Finally, by focusing on a transnational ethno-religious diaspora, I bridge the historiographical divide between the British Empire and the United States.

A copy of the dissertation will be available for review two weeks before the exam. Contact Lee Horinko for a copy of the dissertation and the Zoom meeting link and password.

All are welcome and encouraged to attend.

Lee Horinko Reed
Scholarly Series
Dissertation Defense