Boldly Baldwin word mark

American Studies


Amanda Figueroa ’11
American Nonbelief: Roots of Atheism in the History, Philosophy, and Literature of the Modern Period
In the years leading up to World War I, American religious attitudes were shifting away from strict devotion towards a more secular society. However, years later, at the close of World War II, religiosity in the United States was at a new high. Examining history, philosophy, and literature throughout the modern era provides insight into the shifting purpose and fervor of religion in America, as affected by the two World Wars, developing technology, European philosophy, and other influences. Although the roots of nonbelief in America were present throughout this time frame, this work finds that rather than follow European counterparts towards a less religious society, United States culture adapted religious fundamentalism for use as a defining characteristic of what it meant to be American in the last half of the twentieth century.