Photo of Kip Kosek

Joseph Kip Kosek

Associate Professor of American Studies
Faculty: Associate
Address: 2108 G Street, Room 103
Phone: 202-994-7318

Areas of Expertise

cultural history, religion, social thought, reform movements, political culture

Professor Kosek’s work focuses on social thought, reform movements, and religious cultures in modern America. His first book is Acts of Conscience: Christian Nonviolence and Modern American Democracy, published by Columbia University Press in 2009. The book tells the stories of some religious radicals who responded to the catastrophic bloodshed of the twentieth century by inventing a new form of militant nonviolence. This group’s audacious “acts of conscience” – public performances of moral dissent such as sit-ins, boycotts, and conscientious objection to war – gained remarkable power by blending Christian ideals, Gandhian strategy, and novel uses of mass media.

Acts of Conscience received the American Academy of Religion’s award for Best First Book in the History of Religions.

Current Research

Professor Kosek’s current research explores decentralist movements in the United States from the 1920s to the present. This form of dissent, variously described as agrarian, “back-to-the-land,” self-sufficient, or libertarian, champions independent producers as the best hope for the economic and spiritual renewal of the nation. He also has interests in religion and the civil rights movement, and in the history of American secularism and unbelief.


PhD, Yale U., 2004

full cv


Acts of Conscience: Christian Nonviolence and Modern American Democracy (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009).


“‘Just a Bunch of Agitators’: Kneel-Ins and the Desegregation of Southern Churches,” Religion and American Culture 23, no. 2 (Summer 2013), pp. 232-61

“Richard Gregg, Mohandas Gandhi, and the Strategy of Nonviolence,” Journal of American History 91, no. 4 (March 2005), pp. 1318-48.

Henry Ford for President!” History News Network, May 2, 2011.
Why I Banned Laptops,” GW Hatchet, March 11, 2010.
“Prisoner of War,” Reviews in American History 37, no. 1 (March 2009), pp. 78-84.
Selling Gandhi,” History News Network, March 16, 2009.
“Brett Favre, Catholic Hero,” Sightings (Martin Marty Center, University of Chicago Divinity School), March 27, 2008.

Featured Media Appearances:
Podcast on Acts of Conscience for “New Books in History” program, September 2010.
Book talk on Acts of Conscience at the Library of Congress, March 25, 2009.

Classes Taught

AMST 2011.80/HIST 2011.80:  Modern American Cultural History (undergraduate lecture)
AMST 2350.80/HIST 2350.80:  U.S. Religion and Politics (undergraduate lecture)
AMST 6420.80/HIST 6420.80:  Religion and American Culture (graduate seminar)

Books by Kip Kosek

Acts of Conscience

Acts of Conscience: Christian Nonviolence and Modern American Democracy