Skip to content

2023 Participants

Ryne Beddard

Ryne Beddard is a PhD Candidate in Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He researches religion, race, and ecology in the US South. Focusing on the late colonial and antebellum Great Dismal Swamp as an unofficial sacred site, his dissertation explores the mechanisms through which racial and religious identities were produced and maintained in the backwaters of an emerging empire.

Judith Brunton

Judith Ellen Brunton is a scholar of religious studies and the environmental humanities, currently at Harvard University as a William Lyon Mackenzie King Postdoctoral Fellow in the Canada Program at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. Judith received her PhD from the University of Toronto’s Department for the Study of Religion in 2022. Her doctoral work and current book project takes an ethnographic and archival approach to explore how legacies of oil extraction allow for contemporary imaginaries of the good life in Alberta. This includes case studies on: Imperial Oil’s publications, Energy Heritage sites, the Calgary Stampede, and various corporate aspirational initiatives in Calgary. Judith is broadly interested in questions of land and labor, secularity and enchantment, religion-making, and method in the North American West. Her next projects will expand on oil to include investigations into ghost town, ley lines, malls, and the rodeo among other interests.

Dustin Gavin

Dustin Gavin (he/him) is a PhD candidate in the Departments of Religious Studies and African American Studies at Yale University. His research contests Protestant idioms of the sacred and profane to examine the histories, aesthetics, and embodies performances of black women, femmes, and butch queens across U.S. southern regions. His dissertation, “If You Buck: The Politics and Possibilities of J-setting” asks what the gestural and embodied movements of the black, southern, and femme dance practice known as “j-setting” can reveal about the liminality of the sacred and profane, black cultural hybridity, and the religious form(s) of our seemingly secular commitments. He argues that j-setting – in its fabrications, mediations, and sensations – bucks and grooves through the architecture(s) of black southern religious lives.

Sarah Hedgecock

Sarah M. Hedgecock is a PhD candidate in the Department of Religion at Columbia University. She is interested in exploring ideas around American evangelicalism, nostalgia, relationality, and childhood. She is currently working on a dissertation about evangelical girlhood, drawing on interviews with girls active in evangelical organizations. She holds a BA in anthropology from Princeton University and an MA in religion from Columbia.

Kit Hermanson

Kit Hermanson is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Religion at Columbia University. Their dissertation explores nonbinary gender and sex formations in the 19th century United States. Through literature, sermons, scientific texts, diaries, letters, and periodicals, they piece together a critical genealogy of contemporary queer and trans identity that connects the rhetorics of gender identity and sexuality to the Christian concepts of soul and interiority that proliferated American popular imagination at the same time that sexual dimorphism was coming to be seen objectively. This work spans scientific and religious cultural formations from 1780 to 1890, including theologies of divine androgyny, scientific debates over hermaphroditism, and political attempts to reform and remake binary gender norms. When not researching or writing for their dissertation, Kit works in museums seeking new ways to make queer theory, religious studies, and history more accessible to the general public.

Robyn Lee Horn

Robyn Horn is a 5th-year PhD candidate in Theatre and Performance at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Her dissertation examines the performance practices and tourism structures of evangelical Christian theatre in America. The project examines the temporal and hermeneutical frameworks of this theatrical practice and situates contemporary Christian theatre within a historical lineage of efficacious, transmedial, evangelical performance outreach.

Mihee Kim-Kort

Mihee Kim-Kort is a doctoral candidate in the department of Religious Studies at Indiana University with a concentration in Religion in the Americas and a minor in Critical Race and Postcolonial Studies. Her research interests broadly include race and religion, American Protestantism, and Asian American literature. She is currently working on a dissertation that explores koreanness as a site of racialized religion, transpacific entanglements, procedures of citizenship, and diasporic sentimentalism in the following forms of cultural production: ethnic autobiography, the work and poetry of Don Mee Choi and Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, the Korean American grocery store H Mart, and under-researched Korean religious communities in the US. In addition, she writes more broadly on gender and sexuality, purity culture, and American evangelicalism. She has degrees in English Literature and Religious Studies from the University of Colorado-Boulder, and an MDiv and ThM from Princeton Theological Seminary.

Sarah Riccardi-Swartz

Sarah Riccardi-Swartz is an Assistant Professor of Religion and Anthropology at Northeastern University, where she is also an affiliate faculty member in the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program. She received her B.A. and M.A. in Religious Studies from Missouri State University. She earned an M.Phil. and a Ph.D. in Anthropology from New York University, where she also obtained an Advanced Graduate Certificate in Culture and Media (ethnographics filmmaking and theory). Currently, she is a Senior Fellow in the “Orthodoxy and Human Rights” project at Fordham University’s Orthodox Christian Studies Center. Broadly, her work focuses on conservative social politics, race, media worlds, and Orthodox Christianity. Her first book is Between Heaven and Russia: Religious Conversion and Political Apostasy in Appalachia (Fordham University Press).