William Katerberg


  • Redeemer University College, Canada
  • B.A., Calvin College, MI
  • M.A., University of Notre Dame, IN
  • M.A., Ph.D., Queen’s University, Canada


Prof. Katerberg is director of the Mellema Program in Western American Studies. He is currently chair of the history department.

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).

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.

Read Will Katerberg's posts on Historical Horizons, the history department blog.

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. You can see some of my photography at my photography blog on WordPress or on my photography portfolio."

Academic interests

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.

  • The North American West
  • Radical and extremist politics in the US since World War II
  • History of religion and science

Courses taught


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Book Series Editor for Wiley-Blackwell, "The Western History Series" (with Carol L. Higham)

Selected Essays

  • “History in the Anthropocene,” Fides et Historia 47, no. 2 (forthcoming).
  • “The Poverty of Theory (and History): Frank Ankersmit’s Search for Historical Experience,” Fides et Historia 45, no. 2 (Summer/Fall 2013).
  • “Globalizing American Creation Stories,” The Maryville Symposium: Conversations on Faith and the Liberal Arts, Theme Issue on Frontiers, Borders and Citizens: Membership in American Society 5 (2012): 7–33.
  • “The Person of the Historian,” Fides et Historia 44, no. 1 (Winter/Spring 2012): 76–81.
  • “Who Wants to Live in the Real World?” Practically Human: College Professors Speak from the Heart about Humanities Education. Grand Rapids, MI: Calvin College Press, 2012.
  • “The ‘Objectivity Question’ and the Historian’s Vocation.” In Confessing History: Explorations in Christian Faith and the Historian's Vocation, edited by John Fea, Jay Green, and Eric Miller. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2010.
  • “A Northern Vision: Frontiers and the West in the Canadian and American Imagination.” In One West, Two Myths, Volume Two: Essays on Comparison, edited by Carol L. Higham and Robert Thacker. Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2007.
  • “Western Myth and the End of History in the Novels of Douglas Coupland,” Western American Literature 40, no. 3 (Fall 2005): 272–99.
  • “Redemptive Horizons, Redemptive Violence, and Hopeful History.” Fides et Historia 36, no. 1 (Summer/Fall 2004): 1–14.

In the news


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