Religious Studies

Kathleen Flake

Professor, Richard Lyman Bushman Chair of Mormon Studies (American Religions)
Mailing Address:

Department of Religious Studies
PO Box 400126
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4126


Gibson Hall, S-421

Office Hours:

Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10am-12pm



  • University of Chicago: Ph.D. (2000)
    • Major Area: History of Christianity (American)
    • Minor Area: Theology & Narrative
  • Catholic University of America: M. A. in Religious Studies (1995)
  • University of Utah School of Law: J.D. (1980)
  • Brigham Young University: B.A. in English (1974)

Research Interests

  • American Religious History – the adaptive strategies of 19th and 20th century American religious communities and the affect of pluralism on religious identity
  • Religious Studies – the constructive function of text and ritual in maintaining and adapting the identity and gendered power structures of religious communities
  • American Legal History – the influence of American law on American religion and the theological tensions inherent in the First Amendment religious clauses

Teaching Experience

  • RELC 2215: Mormonism & American Culture
  • RELC 3215: American Religious Innovation
  • RELC 4559: Church-State Conflict
  • RELC 4559: Modern American Marriage in Historical Context


Kathleen Flake is the Richard L. Bushman Professor in Mormon Studies at the University of Religion. She teaches courses in American religious history, with an emphasis on religious adaptation and the interaction of American religion and law. She is the author of The Politics of Religious Identity: The Seating of Senator Reed Smoot, Mormon Apostle. She has published in several scholarly journals and is on the editorial board of Religion and American Culture: A Journal of Interpretation and the Journal of Mormon Studies. Her current project is “Mormon Matriarchy, a Study of Gendered Power in Antebellum America.”  Professor Flake has been awarded grants from the Mellon Foundation, Lily Endowment, Pew Charitable Trusts and the American Philosophical Society.  She has held office in the American Academy of Religion, the American Society of Church History, and the Southeastern Commission for the Study of Religion. Prior to her appointment at Virginia, she taught at Vanderbilt University in both the Divinity School and Graduate Department of Religion.  Before becoming an academic, she litigated cases on behalf of the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Washington, D.C. 

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