Robert Elder

Robert Elder
Associate Professor of History
High Res Photo
Spring 2022 Office Hours

Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 1-2pm.


American South, especially religion, slavery, and intellectual history

  • Emory University, PhD (2011)
  • Clemson University, MA (2005)
  • Clemson University, BA, summa cum laude (2003)
Academic Interests and Research

My research focuses on the cultural, intellectual, and religious history of the American South in the 19th century. My first book examines the influence of honor culture on evangelical religion in the early 19th century South, and links this interaction to the origins and progress of modern identity in the region. I have published articles, essays, and reviews in venues such as The Journal of Southern History, Safundi, The Journal of American History, The Journal of Southern Religion, and Books & Culture. I am currently writing a cultural and intellectual biography of South Carolina Senator John C. Calhoun, one of the intellectual architects of southern secession who the historian David Potter once called "the most majestic champion of error since Milton's Satan." In the wake of significant reevaluations of the South’s relationship to modernity and capitalism, this project will reexamine Calhoun's ideas and arguments the backdrop of new scholarship.

  • The Sacred Mirror: Evangelicalism, Honor, and Identity in the Deep South, 1790-1860 (UNC Press, 2016)
  • Calhoun: American Heretic (Basic Books 2021)

My approach to teaching is pretty simple: read good books, tell good stories, try to rescue the past from what E.P. Thompson once called the "enormous condescension of posterity."

  • HIS 1300: U.S. in Global Perspective
  • HIS 2365: U.S. History to 1877
  • HIS 4365: The Early Republic
  • HIS 4368: The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • HIS 4384: History of the South
  • HIS: 5369: The Historian's Craft
Recent Presentations
  • “John C. Calhoun and the Coming of the Civil War,” Newberry Teachers’ Consortium Seminar, Newberry Library, October 2017
  • “Recasting the Cast-Iron Man: John C. Calhoun and American Democracy,” Clemson University History Department, September 2017
  • “John C. Calhoun and the ‘Spring of Nations’: 1848 and the Making of ‘A Disquisition on Government’,” The Kinder Institute On Constitutional Democracy, University of Missouri, November 2016
Curriculum Vitae

Dr. Elder C.V.