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April 4, 2001


DALLAS (SMU) -- In the first public presentation of his research, Richard Wightman Fox, professor of history at the University of Southern California, will discuss his groundbreaking cultural study of Jesus in the United States at Southern Methodist University's annual Stanton Sharp Lecture in History at 4 p.m., Tuesday, April 24.

The lecture, "'He Walks with Me and He Talks With Me': Jesus is Born Again in Nineteenth-Century America," will be in SMU's McCord Auditorium in Dallas Hall. It is free and open to the public. The lecture is sponsored by the William P. Clements, Jr. Department of History and made possible by a gift from Ruth Sharp Altshuler, local philanthropist and chair of the SMU Board of Trustees, to honor her son, Stanton Sharp.

According to SMU assistant professor of history Alexis McCrossen, Fox's study, soon to be a book, is the first cultural history of Jesus in the U.S and will describe the diversity of beliefs and practices surrounding Jesus over the course of American history.

"Professor Fox wants to explain the striking, indeed persistent, growth of American devotion to Jesus," said McCrossen, who is organizing Fox's visit to the SMU campus and to Dallas. "Rather than engage in the quest for the 'historical Jesus,' which has long occupied scholars, Professor Fox is studying the culturally embedded life of Jesus in the succession of American communities that have worshipped him."

Fox has published extensively on American cultural, intellectual and religious history. His most recent book, Trials of Intimacy: Love and Loss in the Beecher-Tilton Scandal (1999) received the 1999 Award for History from the American Association of Publishers and has been widely reviewed and excerpted. Fox also is well-known as the biographer of Reinhold Niebuhr, having written an extensive biography of the famous American theologian. As an editor, Fox has been responsible for several landmark publications, including A Companion to American Thought (1995), The Culture of Consumption: Critical Essays in American History (1983) and In the Face of Facts: Moral Inquiry in American Scholarship (1998).

The Sharp Fund enhances history faculty research and teaching and brings to the SMU campus some of the nation's most distinguished scholars for lectures, discussions and interactions with students, faculty members and the public.