History Department
History Department

G. Howard Miller

Professor EmeritusPh.D., 1970, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

G. Howard Miller



Professor Howard Miller is a native Texan and has a BA in music (1964) and an MA in history (1966) from what is now the University of North Texas. In 1970 he received his PhD in American intellectual history from the University of Michigan. From 1970 until 1971 he taught as an Assistant Professor at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. In 1971 he came to the University of Texas at Austin, where he has taught the history of religion in America for almost forty years. He is currently University Distinguished Teaching Professor of History and Religious Studies.

Professor Miller is the author of Revolutionary College: American Presbyterian Higher Education, 1707-1837 (New York: New York University Press, 1976) and has worked recently on a book length study of General Lew Wallace’s best-selling novel, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ and its impact on American culture from its publication in 1880 until the present. He recently published an over-view of that project as “The Charioteer and the Christ: Ben-Hur in America from the Gilded Age to the Culture Wars” in Indiana Magazine of History, 104 (June, 2008): pp. 153-175.

Professor Miller has held several administrative positions at the University. Between 1975 and 1977 he was the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs. In the 1980s he served for several years as the chair of the faculty committee that coordinated the University’s offerings in Biblical Studies. In that capacity he assisted in laying the foundation for the Department of Religious Studies that was inaugurated in 2008.  And from 1989 through 1998 he directed the graduate program in the Department of History and led the department in restructuring that program for the first time in several years.

Professor Miller has won many of the University awards for teaching excellence, including the Liberal Arts Council Award, the Harry Ransom Award, the Jean Holloway Award, and the Friar Centennial Teaching Fellowship.  In 2009 he received one of the inaugural System-wide awards for teaching excellence, the Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award.

Recently Professor Miller announced his intention to retire from the University at the end of the Spring semester of 2011.

Courses taught

Professor Miller’s primary teaching area is American intellectual history in general and the history of American religion in particular.  His most recent courses include:

History 350L—Religion and Popular Culture: The Ben-Hur Tradition in America.
History 350L—Religion Formation in America: The Mormon Experience
History 350L—“Reel Religion:”  The Cinematic Lives of Jesus
History 350L—Faith in the Fifties: American Religion at the MidTwentieth Century
History 365G—Jesus in American Culture
History 365G—Unbelief in America Culture
History 365G—Religion in America from 1945 to the Present
History 398T--Supervised Teaching at the College and University Level


HIS 350R • Religion & Us Popular Culture

39345 • Fall 2010
Meets W 300pm-600pm GAR 1.122
(also listed as R S 346)

History 350R/RS 346
Professor Howard Miller
W 3:00-6:00
GAR 1.122
Office:  Garrison 3.220
Hours: MWF 11:00-12:00, W 1:30-2:30




Required Texts:

Students are expected to have purchased the following:

Lew Wallace, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ

Bruce D. Forbes and Jeffrey H. Mahan, eds., Religion and Popular Culture in America

            (revised edition)

Ben-Hur, Four-disc Collector’s Edition, Warner Brothers DVD


Class Attendance and Participation: 

Fifty per cent of the course grade will be determined by class attendance and participation in class discussion. 

This is a seminar; there will be virtually no lecturing by Professor Miller.  Students are expected to be at every class and to be prepared to participate actively in discussing the assigned reading.  Every unexcused absence will result in five points being deducted from the attendance/participation half of the final course grade.

There will be no examinations in the course as long as students  (1) faithfully attend class, (2) do the assigned reading and (3) sustain effective discussion of that reading. If they do not do these things, Professor Miller reserves the right to give pop quizzes on the assigned reading and any other examinations that might seem appropriate.  The grade(s) on those quizzes will be factored into the attendance/participation half of the final course grade.

Students are expected to approach a subject about which they may have strong personal opinions from a perspective appropriate to scholarly inquiry.


The other half of the course grade will be determined by the semester’s writing project.  This is a Substantial Writing Component Course.  Students are required by University and College of Liberal Arts regulations to submit at least sixteen pages of written material that must be evaluated by the instructor and then re-written to reflect that evaluation. Each student will, in close consultation with Professor Miller, select a topic that traces a theme or development that interests the student and that could serve as the basis of the final paper.

By noon, Friday, October 8, each student will turn in a one to two pages short prospectus describing the topic of her or his paper and discussing the ways in which the topic might be developed.

By noon, Friday, October 22, each student will turn in a three to four page extended prospectus of the paper that will elaborate on those plans and suggest materials to be used in the analysis of the topic. 

A first draft of that paper, at least twelve pages in length, is due by noon, Friday, November 12.

A revision of the paper that takes into careful and detailed consideration Professor Miller’s critique of the first draft and that is at least sixteen pages in length is due by noon on Tuesday, December 7.

The grade for the writing half of the course grade will be determined in approximately this way:

Short Prospectus:  5%

Extended Prospectus:  15%

First Draft:  30%

Final Draft: 50%

Tentative Course Outline and Assignments

August 25: Introducing the Course

Discussing (1) the problems of studying an extended period of time through the lens of a single cultural artifact and (2) the experience of reading, with early twenty-first century eyes, a late nineteenth century best selling historical romance.

September 1:  Religion and Popular Culture

Developing a theoretical vocabulary and a general background for studying Wallace’s novel and the tradition it created in American popular culture.


Selections from Forbes and Mahan, Religion and Popular Culture

September 8 and September 15: The Novel

Analyzing Ben-Hur and its relationship to late Victorian culture in American and the reasons for its amazing success.


Wallace, Ben-Hur

Wallace, “How I Came to Write Ben-Hur

Paul C. Gutjahr, Chapter 5, “Popularity,” from A Bible for America

Blake Allmendinger, “Toga! Toga!” from Matsumoto and Allmendinger, eds., Over

            The Edge.


September 22:  The First Post-Novel Incarnations

Discussing the broad outlines of the Ben-Hur tradition of the past one hundred and twenty-five years. Viewing and analyzing the first post-novel incarnations of Ben-Hur –advertising and merchandising, lecture, stereopticon, pantomime and tableau vivant—and putting them into the context of emerging debates over issues of intellectual and artistic property in late Victorian culture.



Howard Miller, “The Charioteer and the Christ: Ben-Hur in America from the Gilded

            Age to the Culture Wars”


Ben-Hur: The Making of an Epic,” Documentary in DVD set

September 29:  The Staged Version of Ben-Hur

Discussing the staged version of the novel; analyzing the reasons for its remarkable two decades of success on three continents; and exploring its role in the creation of modern American popular entertainment


Ben-Hur, adapted for the stage by William Young, script in David Mayer, ed., Playing

            Out the Empire

October 6 and October 13: The Silent Cinematic Version(s) of Ben-Hur

Discussing  the first silent version of Ben-Hur, from 1907, and then the epochal silent film of 1925 in its cultural context and analyzing changes made in it from both the novel and the stage play.

Kevin Bownlow, “The Heroic Fiasco,” from The Parade’s Gone By . . .

Bosley Crowther, “The Saga of Ben-Hur,” The Lion’s Share

View: Ben-Hur, (1925-26)

October 20 and October 27: The Blockbuster 1959 Film Version of Ben-Hur

Discussing the most popular and best known of the incarnations of Ben-Hur, especially the ways in which it differs from previous versions and the reasons for the film’s phenomenal success.


“Ben-Hur” from Jan Herman, William Wyler: A Talent for Trouble.

“Four White Horses,” from Charlton Heston, In the Arena

“Chapter 11,” from Ralph Winters, Some Cutting Remarks

“To Do Well What Should Not Be Done At All,” from Gore Vidal, Palimpset

“The Story of the Making of Ben-Hur,” Pamphlet in DVD set

“Benevolent Supremacy,” from Melani McAlister, Epic Encounters


Ben-Hur (1959)

Ben-Hur: The Epic That Changed Cinema,” 2005 Documentary in DVD set

November 3: The Epic Homage to Ben-Hur

Viewing and discussing two instances in which significant movie makers pay tribute to Ben-Hur in general and to the chariot race in particular.


Selections from Oliver Stone, Any Given Sunday

George Lucas: The Phantom Menace

November 10: The Conservative Christian Adaptations of Ben-Hur

Viewing, listening to and discussing instances in which conservative Christians have embraced—and transformed—the “Christ tradition” of Ben-Hur

Listen to:

Focus on the Family Theater, “Ben-Hur: An Epic Tale of Revenge and Redemption”


Fraser and Charlton Heston, Ben-Hur (an animated version)

November 17: Gladiator: Ben-Hur Without Christians

Discussing the ways in which Ridley Scott’s Gladiator was influenced by the 1959 version of Ben-Hur and, in many significant ways, is the culmination of the Ben-Hur tradition in American culture

November 24: Thanksgiving, No Class Meeting

December 1: The Race Goes On: Contemporary Incarnations of “Ben-Hur”

A final session led by Dr Miller

This course contains a Writing flag.

HIS 365G • Jesus In American Culture

39475 • Fall 2010
Meets MWF 1000am-1100am GAR 0.102
(also listed as R S 346)

History 365G/RS 346—Professor Howard Miller
Garrison 0.102
MWF, 10:00-10:00
Office:  Garrison 3.220
Office Hours:  MWF 11-12, W 1:30-2:30



This lecture course will begin with the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, will investigate briefly the development of ideas about him in the first millennium and half of the Christian Era, and will then focus on the changing role of Jesus in American culture from the first settlements to the present. It will argue that the second person of the Christian Trinity has come to dominate American Christianity, especially American Protestantism, even as he has been appropriated by non-Christian traditions in the culture and as he has become a culture symbol that, in an unprecedented way, transcends all specific religious expressions. The format will utilize lectures and some class discussion.

Students will be expected to approach a subject about which they may have strong personal opinions from a perspective appropriate to scholarly inquiry.


The reading for the course will consist of one comprehensive survey of Jesus in America and several primary sources that range from poems and sermons to memoirs, theological treatises, and popular essays and novels. The following texts should be purchased immediately:

Stephen Prothero, American Jesus: How the Son of God Became a National Icon.
Forrest Church,ed., The Jefferson Bible. (Be certain you have this edition.)
Charles Mr. Sheldon, In His Steps.
Bruce Barton, The Man Nobody Knows.
Philip Pullman, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ (on-line purchase)
Throughout the semester, additional required reading will be distributed in class.

Reading for the first examination:
American Jesus
, pp. 3-48.
The Jefferson Bible
, entire, including the preface and afterword.
Selections from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and early periods to be distributed.

Readings for the second examination:
American Jesus
, pp. 48-111, 161-199.
In His Steps
, entire.
The Man Nobody Knows
, entire.
Selections from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to be distributed.

Readings for the final examination:

American Jesus, pp. 112-157, 200-303.
Jesus/ Christ
Selections from the twentieth century to be distributed.


There will be two one-hour examinations that cover both lectures and readings. These exams will be essay and short answer in format and will be grades by Matthew Bunn and Julia Rahe, the Teaching Assistants who have been assigned to the course. Each of those examinations will constitute 25% of the course grade.  The hour examinations have been tentatively scheduled for Friday, October 1 and Wednesday, November 3.

Only students who have a legitimate excuse approved by Professor Miller before missing an examination will be allowed to take a make-up for that examination.

There will also be a three-hour comprehensive final examination. The final will also be essay and short answer in format.  It is comprehensive inasmuch as it will cover all of the lectures of the course. But it will cover only the readings for the last third of the course.  The final examination will count a full 50% of the course grade. The final examination is scheduled from 2:00 to 5:00 on the afternoon of Wednesday, December, the first day of the examination period. The final examination will not be given before the scheduled time period for any reason. Please consult with your families now about any possible conflicts for that date.


Students are expected to faithfully attend lectures and discussions. If attendance slackens off, Professor Miller reserves the right to begin to check roll and to make class attendance a part of the class grading structure

Please make every effort to be at class on time. Please make every effort to remain in class for the entire fifty minutes. Leaving class early is as disruptive and distracting as coming in late.  Professor Miller will also dismiss class at the bell. Promise.


Cell phones are wonderful things. Except in automobiles—and classrooms. Please make sure—each and every day—that your cell phone has been silenced in Professor Miller’s class. 

Students are not allowed to use laptops for taking notes except in cases of documented and approved physical or learning disabilities.  Not being able to write legibly is only a pain, not a disability.


Students with physical and/or other disabilities must bring to Professor Miller immediately certification to that effect from the Services for Students with Disabilities Office. All appropriate accommodations will be made for those needs.


Professor Miller’s office is in Room 3.220 of the recently refurbished Garrison Hall. He will hold hours regularly on MWF from 11:00 to 12:00 and on Wednesday afternoons from 1:30 to 2:30. Students who cannot make those hours should see the professor about arranging a mutually convenient alternative time. Professor Miller also regularly holds additional office hours. Please pay close attention at the beginning of class for any announcement about changes in and additional office hours.

It is especially important in a class on Jesus in America to visit Professor Miller’s office, which contains part of his collection of “Jesus Stuff.” He welcomes one and all.


Do not be the first person caught cheating in one of Professor Miller’s courses. Life is too short.

                                      TENTATIVE SCHEDULE OF LECTURES

                                                            I.  Dei Filius

1.  Jesus and Historical Inquiry: Introducing the Course
2.  From the Jesus of History to the Christ of Faith
3.  Dei Filius:  The Jesus of the Catholic World
4.  Jesus Comes to America: New Spain, New France and New England
5.  Father and Son:  Jesus, the Puritans and Their Heirs
6.  Jesus and the Enlightenment


                                                           II.  Solus Jesus

1.  Solus Jesus: Jesus and the Second Great Awakening
2.  Another Testament of the Christ: Jesus and the Latter-day Saints
3.  Jesus and Slavery: Reform, Race and the Civil War
4.  Panis Angelicus:  Jesus and Nineteenth Century Catholicism
5.  Jesus in Victorian America
6.  Jesus and “Muscular Christianity”

                                                          III.  Jesus Christs

 1.  The Silent Cinematic Lives of Jesus
2.  Jesus in Depression and War, 1914-1945
3.  Jesus in the Age of Conformity: The Fifties
4.  Jesus in the Age of Revolution: The Sixties
5.  Our Lord of the Market Place: Jesus in Contemporary America

HIS 398T • Supervised Teaching In History

40060 • Spring 2010
Meets TH 930-1230pm GAR 1.122

History 398T—H. Miller                    Office: GAR 3.220
Thursday 9:30-12:15                        Hours: By Appointment
GAR 1.122                            hmiller@mail.utexas.edu


This course, officially called “Supervised Teaching in History,” is required of all Graduate Students in the Department of History who hope to serve as Assistant Instructors in the final year of their graduate programs. In the normal course of events, students will take the course in the Spring semester before they become AI’s in the Fallowing Fall and/or Spring semesters.  History graduate students may take the course only after they have been officially admitted to candidacy and are involved either in researching or writing their doctoral dissertations.

Course Work

The course consists primarily of weekly discussions of crucial topics and issues in the teaching of history at the college and university levels. Each student is expected to participate regularly and actively in the weekly discussion. Each student will prepare in the course a teaching portfolio to be presented to prospective employers. The portfolio will consist of:

Curriculum Vita
Two cover letters, one for a position in a research university and another for a liberal
     arts college
Statement of Teaching Experience and Philosophy
Syllabus for proposed Lower Division Survey Course
Syllabus for Proposed Upper Division Course in Major Field
Student Evaluations, if possible.


Students take the course on a Credit/No Credit status only. In order to erceive credit for the course, a student must attend class regularly and turn in the portfolio in its entirety in a timely fashion.

Class Activities

Students in the course will not be required to give a lecture that would be filmed and critiqued by the class. However, the Center for Teaching Effectiveness offers that service to anyone interested in being filmed and students in the course might seriously consider availing themselves of this very useful experience. Students are also urged to ask professors whom they work in a large undergraduate lecture course to allow them to lecture to the class and the to invite the seminar to attend and critique the lecture. If students are asked to fill in for a graduate colleague who is an AI and who has to miss a class to do an on-campus interview, that student is also urged to inform the seminar of that lecture.

Students are also urged to attend each and every one of the talks given by candidates for positions in the Department of History and its related area centers this semester and to report to the class on those job talks. During the term the seminar will also visit at least two area institutions of higher education. Possibilities are St Edward’s University and Austin Community College here in Austin, Texas State University in San Marcos, and Southwestern University in Georgetown

HIS 350L • Reel Relig: Jesus In Us Film-W

40045 • Fall 2009
Meets W 300pm-600pm MEZ 1.122
(also listed as R S 346)

Lectures, discussion, reading, and research on selected topics in the field of history.

May be repeated for credit when the topics vary.

Designed for History majors. 

History 350L and 350R may not both be counted unless the topics vary.

Course carries Writing flag. 

HIS 365G • Unbelief In America

40180 • Fall 2009
Meets MWF 1000-1100 WAG 420
(also listed as R S 346)

Partially fulfills legislative requirement for American history. May be repeated for credit when the topics vary.

HIS 398T • Supervised Teaching In History

39500 • Spring 2009
Meets TH 930-1230pm GAR 1.122

Weekly group meetings with the instructor, individual consultations, and reports.

DEGREE PLAN STATEMENTS: Offered on the credit/no credit basis only.

MEETING STATEMENT: Three lecture hours a week for one semester.

Curriculum Vitae

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