Center for Southern Studies to Welcome Randall J. Stephens for Public Lecture on Evangelical Responses to The Beatles


MACON – Mercer University's Center for Southern Studies on Feb. 17 will welcome Randall J. Stephens, reader in history and American studies at Northumbria University in England, to deliver a public lecture.

The lecture, titled “The Beatles, American Evangelicals, and the Fear of Corrupted Youth,” will take place in Connell Student Center Conference Room 3 at 7 p.m. It is free and open to the community.

“The Center for Southern Studies strives to bring talented scholars to Mercer and Macon who examine the American South to tell us something about our complex ways of living and making meaning in the world,” said Dr. Douglas Thompson, associate professor of Southern studies. “Dr. Stephens has been exploring the ways that evangelicals navigated the chaotic decade of the late 1950s through the late 1960s as popular culture shifted under the influence of things like rock 'n' roll. The Center is pleased to bring him to campus.”

Born and raised in Kansas, Stephens writes and teaches about the American South, religion in the U.S. and popular music.

He is the author of The Fire Spreads: Holiness and Pentecostalism in the American South (Harvard University Press) and co-author of The Anointed: Evangelical Truth in a Secular Age (Belknap Press). His current book project explores the contested area of American popular culture as rock 'n' roll music and evangelical sensibilities struggled for the attention of youth in the 1950s and 1960s.

Stephens serves as editor of the magazine Historically Speaking and associate editor of the journal Fides et Historia. He previously served as editor of the Journal of Southern Religion. He has also written for the New York Times, Chronicle of Higher Education, the Atlantic blog and the Christian Century.

He earned his Ph.D. in American history from the University of Florida, where his dissertation explored the roots of holiness and Pentecostalism in the American South. He also holds master's degrees from Nazarene Theological Seminary and Emporia State University, as well as a bachelor's degree from Mid-America Nazarene College.

In 2012, Stephens traveled to Norway as a Fulbright Roving Scholar in American studies. He has been named a Top Young Historian by the History News Network at George Mason University and selected as the 2008 Young Scholar of American Religion.

Mercer's Center for Southern Studies examines the complex history and culture of the U.S. South. The Center offers an interdisciplinary undergraduate major that studies the region from multiple perspectives, including courses in African American studies, English, history, political science and cultural studies.

The Center annually offers its Southern Semester, a unique opportunity for American and international students to learn about and experience the people, history and culture of the U.S. South; hosts the Lamar Lecture Series, the most prestigious scholarly lectures on Southern history, literature and culture; and awards the Sidney Lanier Prize for Southern Literature, which recognizes significant career contribution to Southern writing.

For more information, visit