All posts by rankin

Communities of Discourse



This piece was extremely fascinating to me. Wuthnow takes the first half of this piece to discuss how an ideology becomes a major movement. He begins with “articulation” meaning that a group must define the parameters of their core beliefs…separating them from the mainstream practices that are popular during their time. This provides us with a definition of what the group stands for while also highlighting the distinct differences between the two groups. From there, the ideology must grow from the environment it has been placed in, aka the accepted culture of the time and the social environment of the time. From this, the ideology is then accepted by the main institution. For an idea to really take off, it has to eventually be accepted by most. Then, how this idea functions within the institution is how it is reflected upon.


Then, Wuthnow finally has enough context for the reader to finally make his argument. He claims that the Protestant Reformation, the Enlightenment, and the rise of Socialism all went through the above described steps to become successful social movements. He also argues that current social movements are shaped by the social environment of the time and vice versa. Then two then make selections on their beliefs, forms of rhetoric, productivity, etc. Wuthnow says that the developmental changes in politics shapes the overall view of how we see ourselves (past, present, and envisioning our future). The interwoven aspects of politics, economics, and social climates help push ideas like the Protestant Reformation transform into movements.


I liked that Wuthnow said that social changes take forever to occur and that they change ever so slightly over time. It made me think of court cases and how interpretations of the law are come to  based off of the precedent(s) set by previous cases. However, I don’t think class structure was really discussed as much as it could have been. I know he says his argument is against the idea that class structure had much (if anything) to do with these movements, but I think it is important to think about a concept so big and revolutionary that can change the thinking of people across differing socio-economic statuses. I do agree that it may not have had as great of an impact on these movements, but I do think how it affects these movements is very important and should be acknowledged by scholars who are closely looking at these events.



Ozment/Keillor on Protestantism

Ozment heavily discusses the political side of Protestantism. He argues that the Protestants had just as many political and financial issues with the Church as they did spiritual conflicts. For one, the Pope would assign people positions of power within the Church, regardless of their capability to handle such a position, to the highest financial pledge. The way to be forgiven for sins was to travel to Rome and pay off the sins in an amount of gold. This was something the lower classes could not afford to do. Therefore, this movement started with the lower classes and later grew when the upper classes converted to Protestantism. The nobility of the time recognized the support they would gain from such a conversion since many Protestants were from more rural areas and were of lower income. Such an act would gain popularity amongst the masses, resulting in more political and social power.


This reading was an interesting contrast between the memoir (at least that is what it seemed like to me) written by Keillor. Here, Protestantism is described more in a moral light than in a political one. However, the dynamic between the Catholics, The Brethren, and The Cox Brethren in St. Cloud is really interesting. Keillor describes a moral hierarchy between the three aforementioned groups. The small group at Aunt Flo’s house (The Brethren) had no television whereas the St. Cloud Brethren had televisions in the places that they worshiped. This made The Brethren morally better than the St. Cloud group. However, the two Protestant groups were still considered to be better than the Catholics and the Lutherans because they were simpler.


The memoir reinforces Ozment’s claim that the separation of the Protestants from the Catholic church had just as much of a socio-economic motive as it had a morality conflict. In fact, it shows the intertwined result of the two by combining the expression of wealth with a more negative image while living and worshiping humbly is seen as more morally upright. This  stigma is hundreds of years old and is still held to be true today as Keillor points out.



Research Project Proposal

Abi Stephens and I have chosen to study the secession of West Virginia from Confederate Virginia. The secession echoes sentiments held in other regions of the Appalachians and uses them to create a formal state government. Western Virginians based their argument on the perception of ill treatment by the Virginian government. Their declaration mirrors the Declaration of Independence, which focused on taxation without representation.

In the case of West Virginia, this meant the unequal benefits reaped by the Tidewater region of internal improvement, costing the state 20 million dollars within fifteen years. It also referred to the lack of representation of the Western region of Virginia in the state’s government. While there was a lot of pro-union sentiment in this area, their secession had less to do with that and more to do with their feeling of mistreatment.

There were two conventions held in Wheeling, Virginia to determine how to achieve the goal of secession. During these conventions, governmental positions were decided upon for the creation of the state of West Virginia. To ensure the success of the vote for secession, Western Virginia had Union soldiers posted at polling sites to prevent pro-Confederate men from casting a vote. They also made voters swear their allegiance to the Union before voting.

We feel the complexity of this secession movement ties in well with the course. The region ties in well with the focus of the course and has parallels to the informal sentiments expressed in other parts of the Appalachians.

“Imagined Communities” Response

This piece was difficult to get through when I first sat down to read it. However, once I got into it, I found myself really enjoying it. Anderson discusses nationalism and gives a rough definition of it for his readers. He describes nationalism as being similar to religion, but without a belief system with an afterlife. Instead of focusing on a god/goddess, nationalism focuses on the state of a country. Anderson is also able to point out the martyrdom that plays a key role in both religion and nationalism. Later on, Anderson delves in a bit further and discusses the cultural uses of nationalism. By this, I mean the way nationalism is so prominent in society. It has worked itself into the differing cultures of nationalistic societies. I really enjoyed the brief background on Kublai Khan and his acceptance of differing faiths. I think this example was contrasted well with Pedro Fermín de Vargas’ ideology where the only redemption of “barbarians” is through impregnation by white men and the ownership of property. Anderson went from ‘The Religious Community’ to the ‘Dynastic Realm’ where he discusses divine right, one of the few political systems acknowledged and accepted back in the day. This chapter primarily focused on nationalism and how it came to be: from religious and dynastic realms to being culturally infused the way it is today.

Personal Post

My name is Kendall. I’m a history and literature double major at UNC Asheville. I am taking this class to learn more computer skills so that I will be able to make my research more accessible. I am also excited to see the research conducted by my peers at other universities. I am really interested in music and I play classical guitar.