Congratulations to Dr. Philippa Koch on the publication of her book, The Course of God’s Providence: Religion, Health, and the Body in Early America (NYU Press, New York, 2021).
Dr. Koch’s main research interest is the history of religion in America, with a focus on colonial America and the Atlantic world. In this book, she examines how Christian communities responded to sickness and epidemics in a context of ever-new medical and scientific developments.
As an Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies, Dr. Koch teaches courses related to religion and health, the body, and sexuality in American religions, as well as Theories of Religion and Religion in America.
“My teaching on health and body brings my research to the modern world, and I enjoy exploring the connections between past and present and the continuing relevance of the themes of medicine, body, sexuality, and emotion in American religion,” she explained.
According to the NYU Press webpage:
In this groundbreaking work, Philippa Koch explores the doctrine of providence—a belief in a divine plan for the world—and its manifestations in eighteenth-century America, from its origins as a consoling response to sickness to how it informed the practices of Protestant activity in the Atlantic world. Drawing on pastoral manuals, manuscript memoirs, journals, and letters, as well as medical treatises, epidemic narratives, and midwifery manuals, Koch shows how Protestant teachings around providence shaped the lives of believers even as the Enlightenment seemed to portend a more secular approach to the world and the human body.
Their commitment to providence prompted, in fact, early Americans’ active engagement with the medical developments of their time, encouraging them to see modern science and medicine as divinely bestowed missionary tools for helping others. Indeed, the book shows that the ways in which the colonial world thought about questions of God’s will in sickness and health help to illuminate the continuing power of Protestant ideas and practices in American society today.
“Provides a theologically sophisticated yet immensely readable exploration of how religion helped eighteenth-century people understand disease. But it is far more than that. Koch offers profoundly humane insights into how the stories people told themselves in times of suffering made—and still make—sense of life and death, of selfhood and agency. Her book is a remarkable accomplishment.” ~Daniel K. Richter, McNeil Center for Early American Studies, University of Pennsylvania
To listen to a discussion with Dr. Koch about the book, please visit the university’s blog post: https://news.missouristate.edu/2021/06/08/religion-and-health/