Department of History

Charles A. Israel

Charles A. Israel Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Associate Professor of History
331 Tichenor Hall
(334) 844-2188

Office Hours

  • By appointment


Charles A. Israel joined Auburn University's history faculty in 2005. He teaches courses in American cultural and intellectual history, including the history and religion of the American South. A native Tennessean, he completed his BA in history from Sewanee: The University of the South and his MA and PhD at Rice University. He has taught high school history, worked as a graduate assistant editor at the Journal of Southern History, and been a faculty member at Texas A&M University and at Sewanee before coming to Auburn as an Associate Professor of History.

In 2004 the University of Georgia Press published Before Scopes: Evangelicalism, Education, and Evolution in Tennessee, 1870-1925 . Eschewing the usual urge to view the 1925 trial of Dayton, Tennessee high-school teacher John T. Scopes as simply a brief spectacle of religious intolerance and a cultural clash emblematic of the 1920s, Before Scopes closely examines the religion and culture of Tennessee and the South in the preceding half-century to detail the trial's place in the development of southern religious attitudes towards social engagement. Before Scopes was recognized by the Tennessee Historical Commission and the Tennessee Library Association as the best book on Tennessee History for 2004.

Dr. Israel's research has been supported by the Spencer Foundation, the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives, and the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture, where he was a fellow in the Young Scholars in American Religion program.

Recent publications include an article exploring the rhetoric and legal history of parent-child relations in the American South, titled "Who Owns Children?: Parents, Children, and the State in the United States South" which was published as part of a transatlantic history of children and citizenship. Dr. Israel also contributed an essay to the sesquicentennial history of the University of the South, in which he explores the place of professional (legal and medical) education at Sewanee in particular but in southern higher education more generally. His essay is "College or University: Professional Education at the University of the South, 1875-1915."

His current research includes a new book on the social and reformist engagement of southern white and black Christians, provisionally titled "A Southern Social Gospel: Religion, Reform, and the Riddle of Race."

Dr. Israel is editor (along with Dr. John Giggie) of the Religion and American Culture book series at the University of Alabama Press. The series is restarting under the new editors and actively seeking to publish innovative approaches to the history of religion in American culture.


Ph.D. Rice University

M.A. Rice University

B.A. Sewanee: The University of the South

Representative Publications


Before Scopes: Evangelicalism, Education, and Evolution in Tennessee, 1870-1925 (University of Georgia Press, 2004).

Articles and Book Chapters:

"Before, During, and After Scopes," Journal of Southern Religion IX (2007).

"Who Owns Children? Parents, Children, and the State in the United States South," in Dirk Schumann and Sonya Michel, eds., Raising Citizens in the "Century of the Child": Child-Rearing in the United States and Europe in the Twentieth Century (New York: Berghahn Books, 2010).

"College or University: Professional Education at the University of the South," in Samuel R. Williamson, Jerry Smith, and Bertram Wyatt-Brown, eds., Sewanee: Sesquicentennial Perspectives on its History (Sewanee: University of the South Press, 2009).

"Evolution, Creation Science, and Intelligent Design," (6,000 words) in Charles Lippy, ed., Encyclopedia of Religion in America (CQ Press, 2010).

Last Updated: August 14, 2019