Chair, History Department
Director, Mellema Program in Western American Studies
Research and professional interests
Prof. Katerberg is a cultural historian of the U.S. and Canada, with research interests in the North American West, religion and politics, literature and film, comparative history, and social theory. The long-term continuities in his work are (1) the relationship between religion, politics, and culture; (2) trans-national perspectives on American history; and (3) the relationship between cultural identities, politics, and critical historiography.
His first book—Modernity and the Dilemma of North American Anglican Identities, 1880-1950—dealt with these issues by looking at how a religious tradition responded to social, intellectual, and cultural changes during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He has published essays on nativism, national identity, and the place of religion in U.S. and Canadian politics and public life. In a collection he co-edited and to which he contributed a chapter, The Future of Hope (2004), he explored the intersection of political theory, philosophy, and religion. And in Future West: Utopia and Apocalypse in Frontier Science Fiction (2008), he used the methods of intellectual history, political theory, and literary criticism to examine science fiction novels and films set in the American West of the near future to analyze the relationship between visions of the past and visions of the future, and to critique American political culture. He has also co-written a survey history textbook on the American West: Conquests & Consequences: The American West from Frontier to Region (2009).
Prof. Katerberg's current writing projects lie in three areas: (1) the history of extremism and its influence on mainstream society in the U.S. since World War II, especially the roles of fear, conspiracy thinking, apocalypticism, and notions of masculine honor in American political and religious culture; (2) Comparing ancient and medieval religious traditions of universal history to recent efforts such as Big History and Deep History, which are based on modern sciences; and (3) co-editing a textbook series on the American West for Wiley-Blackwell.
Life outside of Calvin College
“Over the years, to get away and relax, I’ve travelled far afield, to places like Peru and India, and tempted fate by climbing the occasional mountain and jumping out of perfectly good airplanes. My current hobbies are a little more sedate and safe—mountain biking and road biking, brewing beer, and photography. One of the photography projects is iPhone based. The other involves a variety of cameras, but a commitment to posting an image every day.”
Prof. Katerberg is director of the Mellema Program in Western American Studies. He is currently chair of the history department.
He co-directed the 2012 NEH Summer Institute for Teachers, “American Frontiers in Global Perspective.” Find out more.
See a partial list of Will Katerberg's publications.