James Bratt

James Bratt


  • B.A., History, Calvin College
  • Ph.D., specialties in American intellectual and religious history and the history of immigration, Yale University


Prof. Bratt enjoys reading and writing at the cottage that he and his wife own near Lake Michigan. He regularly volunteers in local political campaigns and has served several terms on the council of his local church. Since retiring from Calvin in 2016, he taught a year at Xiamen University in China on a Fulbright grant and on the fall semester 2017 and 2019 voyages of the Semester at Sea, which rounded the world from Hamburg to San Diego via eleven ports of call. He enjoys visiting his children who currently live in Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Seattle, and Shanghai. He has flown in and/or out of 82 airports around the world and wonders how long he can keep that going. He fights the aging process by working out (cross-training and yoga) and thinks heaven will be a lot like the Lake Michigan shoreline.

Academic interests

Prof. Bratt's principal teaching areas include U.S. intellectual and religious history, particularly in the 19th century, and the history of colonial America. Interim courses include the history of the American Revolution and, more recently, Film Noir in American Culture, which he co-taught with Prof. William Romanowski of Calvin’s CAS department. He also will teach a two-week honors seminar next January on Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America.

Prof. Bratt's research interests on the U.S. side focus on the first great crisis in American evangelicalism (we are currently in the third) signaled by the collapse of the “Second Great Awakening” in the middle of the 19th century, and the creative alternatives that filled the gap.

In comparative history, Prof. Bratt wrote a biography of Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920), a Dutch religious and political leader whose life and thought are particularly relevant to current questions about church-state relations and the role of religious viewpoints in cultural affairs.

Read Jim Bratt's posts on Historical Horizons, the history department blog. 


Articles and book chapters

  • “English, Dutch, & Swedish Protestantism in the Era of Exploration and Early Colonization.” Cambridge History of Religions in America, vol. 1. 2012.
  • “Rites of the Tribes: Two Protestant Congregations in a 20th-Century City.” In By the Vision of Another World: Worship in American History. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2012. 
  • "Confessional Theologies in Nineteenth-Century America.” In The Nineteenth Century Theologians, edited by Colin Gunton and Christoph Schwoebel. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010.
  • “Calvinism in North America,” in Martin Ernst Hirzel & Martin Sallmann, eds. John Calvin’s Impact on Church and Society, 1509-2009. Eerdmans, 2009. Also published in French and German editions. Reprinted in Christoph Stückelberger & Reinhold Bernhardt, eds., Calvin Global: How Faith Influences Societies. Geneva: Globalethics.net, 2009. 133-58.
  • "Sphere Sovereignty among Abraham Kuyper's Other Political Theories." The Kuyper Review. Princeton Theological Seminary 2009.
  • "Abraham Kuyper’s Calvinism: Society, Economics, and Empire in the Late Nineteenth Century.” In Calvin Rediscovered: The Impact of His Social and Economic Thought, edited by Edouard Dommen and James Bratt. Westminster/John Knox Press, 2007.
  • “America the Old.” European Journal of American Studies 2010/2 http://ejas.revues.org/8479.
  • Religious Anti-revivalism in Antebellum America.” Journal of the Early Republic 24:1 (online) (Spring 2004): 65-106. Awarded the Ralph D. Gray Article Prize from the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic, 21 July 2005.


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