Ryan Harper is an adjunct instructor in the department of religion for the fall 2012 semester. He teaches Religion in America and a freshman seminar, American Idols: Sacred and Secular Music. The latter course examines expressions and creations of spirituality in sacred and secular American music following World War II. Music is one of Ryan's primary areas of interest. Currently a graduate student in Princeton University's department of religion, Ryan is completing his dissertation-an ethnography of the Gaither Homecomings, a southern gospel video and concert series spearheaded by husband-and-wife gospel songwriters Bill and Gloria Gaither. He will defend the dissertation in early 2013. A musician himself-trained primarily as a jazz drummer and experienced on guitar, mandolin, bass, and banjo-Ryan performs periodically with jazz, rock, and folk groups in the central New Jersey area.
Ryan's broad, varied interests include contemporary American evangelicalism, religion and gender, Christian ethics, and religion and American literature. These interests reflect and inform his broad training in English (he received his B.S. and M.A. in English from Southeast Missouri State University), Christian theology and history (he received his M.T.S. from Duke Divinity School, also earning the School's Certificate in Gender, Theology, and Ministry), and Religion in the Americas. He has published essays on "post-Promise Keeper" masculinity in contemporary American evangelicalism and evangelicalism and the arts. Ryan has also published poems and essays in several contemporary literary magazines.
A former high school English teacher and music instructor, Ryan is passionate about helping to create and facilitate positive classroom experiences for his students. He is happy to join a religion faculty and a College where so many people share his passion.