Hello. I’m Jennifer Graber. I’m a scholar specializing in the history of religions in the Americas. My specialty is the nineteenth century. I write books and articles about religion and violence and inter-religious contact in American prisons and on the American frontier. I teach in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.

The Furnace of Affliction

Book cover for The Furnace of Affliction

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Focused on the intersection of Christianity and politics in the American penitentiary system, Jennifer Graber explores evangelical Protestants’ efforts to make religion central to emerging practices and philosophies of prison discipline from the 1790s through the 1850s.

“Stated simply, Jennifer Graber has given us the most sophisticated and comprehensive history of prisons and religion in early America that has ever been written. Eloquent, powerful, and riveting, The Furnace of Affliction is required reading for anyone who wishes to understand the painful history of prisons and incarceration in the early republic.”
–Harry S. Stout, Yale University

“Jennifer Graber’s provocative, important, and thoughtful book illuminates the history of the intersection of religious beliefs and practices with the U.S. penitentiary. Her work will become the leading account of that troubled relationship.” — Michael Meranze, University of California, Los Angeles