Holstein Dissertation Fellowship


(For the CFP for the 2019-2020 Fellowship year, please see below)

Chris Babits is a Ph.D. candidate in History and an Andrew W. Mellon Engaged Scholar Initiative Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin. His dissertation is titled “To Cure a Sinful Nation: ‘Conversion Therapy’ and the Making of Modern America, 1920-Today.” In it, he explores the cultural and political battleground of “conversion therapy,” a broad range of therapeutic and counseling practices that aim, in some way, to “cure,” “change,” “redeem,” “restore,” or “repair” a person’s attractions to the same sex and/or their gender identity. Chris’ research has been funded by Harvard University; Yale University; the ONE Archives; the Massachusetts Historical Society; and other archives and cultural institutions. Mentor: Emily Thuma, University of California, Irvine

Benae Beamon is a Ph.D. candidate at Boston University in the Religion and Society track in their Graduate Division of Religious Studies She earned her B.A. in religion from Colgate University and her M.A.R. from Yale Divinity School, concentrating in ethics. Her focus is black queer ethics, folding Black Church ethnography and philosophical hermeneutics into sexual ethics discourse.  Her dissertation “Black Trans Women and Black (Christian) Religious Ethics” uses social history to uncover black moral and social thought surrounding sexuality and builds primarily on womanist ethics, queer theory, and black theology to explore the experience and reality of black queer and trans women. She also has interests in the black arts, black music, performance art/performativity, and specifically tap dance, as they relate to queerness. Mentor: Tamara Ho, University of California, Riverside

Liz Dolfi is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Religion at Columbia University in the North American Religions subfield. Her primary research interests include feminist and queer studies of American religious history, American evangelicalism, contemporary secularisms, and evangelical heterosexualities. Her current project is a historical and ethnographic study of the motivations, tactics, ideology, and theology of the Christian anti-human trafficking movement. She holds an M.A., M.Phil, and IRWGS Graduate Certificate in Gender and Sexuality Studies from Columbia University, an M.A.R. from Yale Divinity School, and a B.A. from Vassar College. Mentor: Andrea Smith, University of California, Riverside

Gregg Drinkwater is a doctoral candidate in U.S. history and Jewish studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder. His research focuses on sexuality, gender, and Judaism in the modern United States, specifically the role of gay and lesbian synagogues in transforming the American Jewish community in the 1970s and 1980s. Prior to his enrollment at the University of Colorado, Drinkwater worked for 10 years for two national Jewish organizations, first Jewish Mosaic and then Keshet, doing research, writing, training, and consulting in support of LGBTQ inclusion and social justice in the Jewish community in the United States and globally. He is the co-editor of the book “Torah Queeries: Weekly Commentaries on the Hebrew Bible” (NYU Press, 2009). He received his BS and MA degrees at the University of California, Berkeley. Mentor: Jennifer A. Thompson, California State University, Northridge

Seth Palmer is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Anthropology and in the collaborative programs in Women’s and Gender Studies and Sexual Diversity Studies at the University of Toronto and is currently a Pre-Doctoral Fellow at the Carter G. Woodson Institute in African-American and African Studies. His dissertation, provisionally titled: In the Image of a Woman: Spirited Identifications and Embodied Interpellations along the Betsiboka River, reconsiders the import of spirit mediumship and its idioms in the social worldings of sarimbavy (same-sex desiring and/or gender non-conforming, male-bodied persons) and the spirits that possess them. Seth’s research, which is based on ethnographic fieldwork in northwestern Madagascar, has been published in TSQ. Mentor: David K. Seitz, Harvey Mudd College

An alumnus of University College London and Berkeley’s Graduate Theological Union, Max Thornton is a doctoral candidate in Theological and Philosophical Studies in Religion at Drew University in New Jersey. His work spans affect theory, posthumanism, and trans and crip studies, with a focus on gender, disability, and theological anthropology. He has taught religion at Kean University, first-year seminar at Seton Hall, and Latin at a London primary school. His other interests include internet and new media theory, surveillance studies, and cats. Mentor: Erin M. Runions, Pomona College




The Department of Religious Studies at the University of California, Riverside is pleased to announce that applications are open for the 2019-20 cohort of Holstein Dissertation Fellows.

The Holstein Dissertation Fellowship is an annual, non-stipendiary program that brings together a small cohort of doctoral candidates working in the area of queer and transgender studies in religion for networking, writing support, and mentoring at UC Riverside and in the surrounding Southern California area. Fellows travel as a group to UCR on three separate weekends during the academic year; the fellowship pays all expenses for transportation, accommodations, and meals during each trip. Typical cohorts are between three and five Fellows, depending on available funding.

Applications are invited from PhD students in any field, both within and outside the US, whose dissertation research focuses on queer and/or transgender studies in religion. Doctoral degree tracks other than the PhD may be considered on a case-by-case basis, and applications from doctoral students attending UC Riverside are welcome. Fellows must have advanced to candidacy (CPhil) or their institution’s equivalent, and must have had their dissertation project approved by their institution, by June 30, 2019. They must also anticipate completion of the PhD no sooner than spring of the fellowship year. Fellowships are intended, in other words, for those who will be doctoral candidates for at least a significant majority and ideally all of their fellowship year.

To apply, please submit a cover letter, a CV, a dissertation abstract, and one letter of recommendation from a member of your dissertation committee. Your cover letter should explain your background in queer and/or transgender studies, religious studies, and queer and/or transgender studies in religion; briefly introduce your dissertation project; explain your current progress on the project and your expected timeline for completion, with particular attention to the work you plan to do during the fellowship year; and identify one or more faculty members at UCR or in Southern California with whom you would like to work in a mentoring relationship during the weekend visits to UCR (please indicate order of preference if you nominate more than one potential mentor). Nominated mentors should be scholars with whom you do not ordinarily have the opportunity to work, and should not include Melissa Wilcox, who works closely with all fellowship recipients. Send all application materials as email attachments to melissa.wilcox@ucr.edu by May 1, 2019. Applications will be reviewed by Dr. Wilcox and by the applicant’s nominated mentor(s); selection criteria include but are not limited to the quality of the applicant’s work, the depth of the project’s connection to queer and/or transgender studies in religion, and the applicant’s length of time to degree completion (all other factors being equal, those who will be ineligible for later cohorts due to completion of the PhD will receive priority consideration). There are no guarantees as to the availability of nominated mentors, but every effort will be made to match accepted Fellows with mentors whose own work is close to the Fellow’s dissertation topic.

The Holstein Dissertation Fellowship is funded by the Holstein Family and Community Chair in Religious Studies at UCR, which was created through the generosity of Robert and Loretta Holstein and their family and friends.

For questions regarding the program or the application process, please contact Melissa M. Wilcox, Professor and Holstein Family and Community Chair in Religious Studies, Department of Religious Studies, University of California Riverside, Riverside CA 92521; melissa.wilcox@ucr.edu.