Matthew A. Sutton
Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara, 2005
Academic & Professional Interests
Sutton teaches courses in 20th century United States history, cultural history, and religious history.
Research and Publications
Sutton’s most recent book American Apocalypse: A History of Modern Evangelicalism (Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2014) is the first comprehensive history of modern American evangelicalism to appear in a generation. It shows how a group of radical Protestants, anticipating the end of the world, paradoxically transformed it. Perceiving the United States as besieged by Satanic forces—communism and secularism, family breakdown and government encroachment—Billy Sunday, Charles Fuller, Billy Graham, and others took to the pulpit and airwaves to explain how Biblical end-times prophecy made sense of a world ravaged by global wars, genocide, and the threat of nuclear extinction. Believing Armageddon was nigh, these preachers used what little time was left to warn of the coming Antichrist, save souls, and prepare the nation for God’s final judgment.
He is currently co-editing a collection of essays tentatively entitled American Faith in the New Millennium (Oxford University Press, 2016), which uses history to explore how religion is shaping the modern world. He has written a textbook, Jerry Falwell and the Rise of the Religious Right: A Brief History with Documents, as part of the popular Bedford “History and Culture” series (Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2012). His first book, Aimee Semple McPherson and the Resurrection of Christian America (Harvard University Press, 2007), won the Thomas J. Wilson Memorial Prize from Harvard University Press, awarded annually to the best book in any discipline by a first-time author. The book also served as the basis for the Public Broadcasting Service documentary Sister Aimee, part of PBS’s American Experience series.
Sutton has published articles in the Journal of American History, Religion & American Culture, Church History, the Journal of Policy History, and the Public Historian as well as in numerous edited collections. His article, “Was FDR the Antichrist? The Birth of Fundamentalist Anti-liberalism in a Global Age,” won the Organization of American Historians’ Binkley-Stephenson Award for the best article published in the Journal of American History in 2012. Sutton has also written for the New York Times.
Sutton spent the 2012-2013 academic year as the Mary Ball Washington Professor of American History at University College Dublin (on a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Grant). He has also held fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. Sutton has been featured on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition and MSNBC’s The Last Word, among many other news shows. He has lectured on religion, politics, and American culture across the US and in universities in Ireland, the United Kingdom, Denmark, and Germany.