My fields of interest include cultural and religious history, politics, and modern United States history. In both my research and my teaching, I try to emphasize the connections between politics and culture.

My book, "Witnessing Suburbia" (UC Press, 2009) explores the intersection of conservatism, religion, and suburbanization by demonstrating the ways in which conservative religious beliefs reshaped the political and cultural landscape of the late twentieth century. Rather than placing religious beliefs at the margins of public discourse, my project shows how Christian conservatives adapted to, and participated in, debates by articulating a morality-based social criticism through cultural forms such as popular music.

Through chapters that examine the attitudes of Christian parents and critics, musicians, and youth, I examine the shift in Christians’ attitudes toward popular music from one of outright condemnation to one of interaction and appropriation. The manuscript culminates with a chapter that examines how Christian political and cultural activism intersected to oppose challenges by abortion rights and gay rights activists in Orange County, California. My American Quarterly article, published in March 2005, shows how Christian metal bands sought acceptance from the secular world even as they embraced themes of spiritual warfare that echoed the rhetorical strategies of Christian political leaders like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson.

Eileen Luhr
assistant professor

B.A., Williams College
Ph.D., UC Irvine

Fields of interest
modern/contemporary United States, politics, history of religion, cultural history

In addition to teaching courses in modern United States history, I serve as an advisor for the Social Science Credential Program and teach History 401, Social Science for Teachers. I have several years of experience working in southern California public schools. From 2001 until 2003, I worked for Humanities Out There (H.O.T.), an educational partnership between UC Irvine’s School of Humanities and the Santa Ana Unified School District. The program brings student-centered lessons, graduate student leaders, and undergraduate tutors to selected K-12 classrooms. In 2004, the materials were published as a five-unit, twenty-two lesson curriculum for (free!) distribution to eleventh-grade history teachers (please e-mail me if you are interested in receiving a copy of these materials). At the UC Irvine History Project in 2005-2006, I created professional development seminars that showed K-12 teachers how to raise language awareness and integrate academic scholarship and multimedia technology into their classroom practices.