My dear readers, many thanks for your votes and your input on the title issue. Now that you’ve all voted, I can say what’s what.
1. From Potential Christians to Hereditary Heathens: Religion and Race in Virginia, 1550-1750.
This was the title of the dissertation. I love it because it perfectly encapsulates what the book is about, and also because my old, dear friend Louis Hyman thought up the beautifully alliterative phrase “Hereditary Heathens.” This has been the working title of the manuscript but it has the drawback of being kinda wordy. Well, not kinda. It is wordy.
2. Religion and Race in Early Virginia: From Potential Christians to Hereditary Heathens
This is one title the publisher has suggested. It’s basically the first title reversed. I’m not fond. While it will be good for keyword searching, it just does not flow. It doesn’t look like you guys liked this one either.
3. The Baptism of Virginia
This one was suggested by the marketing folks. I have a number of problems with it. First, it doesn’t actually say what the book is about. While I do have one chapter about baptism, the book itself is NOT about baptism. Specialists in my field might actually think that the book is about John Leland, or Methodists, or Baptists, or that it might be antebellum. Moreover, in a keyword search, someone searching for something about religion and race wouldn’t actually get this book. NOT FOND. But, I was surprised to note that in the poll and on twitter, you folks really liked it. So, food for thought.
4. Creating a Christian Race in Virginia, 1550-1750
My friend the magnificient sepoy came up with this one. He asked, what needs to be in the title? I said, three things need to be in the title: religion/Christianity/Christians, race, and Virginia. This title says it all, nice and simple, no subtitle, and gives a date range. Boom. I love it. Works for me.
It doesn’t work for the publishing house.
So, my father (deerislebound in the comments) suggested: The Baptism of Virginia: Creating a Christian Race, 1550-1750. I rather like this solution. It preserves the elements the marketing professionals seem to find most useful about the title, but it allows me to sneak in a subtitle that for me clarifies what the book is actually about.
Some other suggestions emanating from the folks with the power: Creating a Christian Master Race, and, Creating Christian Masters. Neither of those works for me because I don’t feel the book is a) about Nazis, or b) really about the planter class either, at least no exclusively, in the way that say, Roll, Jordan, Roll was about the master class. So.
Tomorrow phone call with my editor and hopefully we can work this out. #crossesfingers