Gale Kenny

Gale Kenny

Research Interest


Ph.D., History, Rice University, 2008
B.A., Religion, Northwestern University, 2001


Gale Kenny, Assistant Professor in the Department of Religion at Barnard College, completed her PhD in History at Rice University and BA in Religion at Northwestern. Her research has focused broadly on religion, race, and gender in the nineteenth- and early twentieth-century United States and the imperial and internationalist entanglements of American religious movements. She is interested in religion and social movements, formations of liberal religion, and the limitations of liberalism, especially in the context of Protestant foreign missions, antislavery, and campaigns for women’s rights. She is currently embarking on a new research project considering the role of gender, empire, and new religious movements through the life and career of theosophist Katherine Tingley.

At Barnard, Professor Kenny teaches courses in American religious history, including the lecture courses, Religion in Early America and Religion in the Modern US. Her seminars often incorporate archives and archival methods, and these include Religious Histories of New York City, Religion in the Archive, Defining Marriage, and a First-Year Seminar on “Cults.” She also regularly teaches the department’s methodology course, Religion Lab, and Senior Seminar.

Kenny’s publications include Contentious Liberties: American Abolitionists in Post-Emancipation Jamaica (University of Georgia Press, 2010), a microhistory examining white
Protestant missionaries’ efforts to evangelize and educate Afro-Jamaicans in the period between Jamaican emancipation and the US Civil War. Her most recent book, Christian Imperial
Feminism: White Protestant Women and the Consecration of Empire
(NYU Press, 2024), analyzes how white Protestant women’s missionary movement deeply informed the liberal
Christian internationalism and Black-white interracialism that animated ecumenical Protestants in the 1920s-1940s. She has also published articles in Slavery and Abolition, Journal of the Civil War Era, and Religion and American Culture.